Did Antidepressant Contribute to Suicide? — (The People's Pharmacy)

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The People’s Pharmacy

Joe and Terry Graedon

September 16, 2010

Q. I had a really close friend who committed suicide last year. She seemed like one of the most stable people I knew. She had everything, but all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, she went out one night and jumped off a bridge.

I just recently found out she was on Prozac and some medication for a stomach problem. I’m curious to know if these medications could have contributed to her suicide. She was a beautiful friend, and it was such a waste of her life.

A. We are dismayed by your story. Trying to second-guess the cause of a suicide is risky. Some people are able to conceal their mood so well that even friends don’t appreciate how depressed they feel.

On the other hand, many medicines can trigger depression. Some blood pressure drugs, heartburn medications such as metoclopramide, hormones (estrogen and progesterone), tranquilizers and corticosteroids have been implicated.

The possible association of Prozac and similar antidepressants (Effexor, Paxil, Zoloft) with worsening depression or suicide attempts has been controversial, but the FDA requires that such medicines carry a black-box warning about this risk. We have heard from families that believe their loved ones were driven to suicide by their medication. On the other hand, psychiatrists point out that depressed people sometimes commit suicide even when they are under treatment.