Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Uppsala University, Department of Economics

No 2005:4: Antidepressants and the Suicide Rate: Is There Really a Connection?

Matz Dahlberg () and Douglas Lundin ()
Additional contact information
Matz Dahlberg: Department of Economics, Postal: Uppsala University, P.O. Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Douglas Lundin: Läkemedelsförmånsnämnden, Postal: Box 55, 171 11 Solna, Sweden

Abstract: Recent research claims that the major part of the observed reduction in suicide rates during the 1990’s can be explained by the increase in the prescription of antidepressants. This conclusion is however based on research that only looks at raw correlations; confounding effects from other variables are not controlled for. Using a rich data set, we reinvestigate the issue. After controlling for other covariates, observed as well as unobserved, that might affect the suicide rate, we find, overall, no statistically significant effects from antidepressants on the suicide rate; when we do get significant effects, they are positive for young persons. Regarding the latter result, more research is needed before any firm policy conclusion can be made.

Keywords: Suicide; antidepressants; Poisson fixed effects

JEL-codes: C23; I12

31 pages, January 15, 2005

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