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Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2012;14(3). pii: PCC.11m01256. doi: 10.4088/PCC.11m01256. Epub 2012 May 10.

Increased use of antidepressants in women decreases suicides in men: an ecological study.

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  • 1Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Salokangas and Korkeila) and Biostatistics (Messrs Korpelainen and Helenius), University of Turku, Turku; Population Studies Unit, Department of Chronic Diseases Prevention, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Turku (Dr Salminen); Department of Psychiatry, University Central Hospital, Turku (Dr Salokangas); Psychiatric Clinic, Turku City Hospital, Turku (Dr Salokangas); and Department of Psychiatry, Harjavalta Hospital, Harjavalta (Dr Korkeila), Finland.



The suicide rate has decreased in many countries, while the use of antidepressants has increased. In our previous study, the decrease in suicide rate between 1994 and 2001 was greater in men than in women, but the increase in use of antidepressants was greater in women than in men. We hypothesized that the increase in the use of antidepressants in women associates with the decrease in suicide rate in men.


Population-based suicide rate and reimbursed antidepressant prescriptions, an indicator of antidepressant use, between 1994 and 2001 in Finland were analyzed in the whole population. Variance in the suicide rates in men and women was explained by antidepressant prescriptions for men and women, age, time period, and geographical region in Poisson regression analyses.


The decrease in suicide rate in men associated significantly with the increase in antidepressant prescriptions in women even though the model took into account the effect of increased antidepressant prescriptions in men, as well as the effects of age, time, and region (risk ratio [RR] = 0.70, P = .004, in the model without age; RR = 0.89, P = .048 in the complete model). However, the decrease in suicide rate in women did not associate with the increase in antidepressant prescriptions in men.


Increased prescription of antidepressants in women associates with a decreased suicide rate in men. Increased use of antidepressive medication in women may decrease depressiveness in their microsocieties and thereby reduce the risk of suicides also in men.

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