, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 291-294

Antidepressants in suicide: differences in fatality and drug utilisation

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Abstract

All forensic autopsy cases in southern Sweden in 1986–89 in which antidepressant drugs were found in the blood were assessed and the findings related to the sales of antidepressants as expressed as defined daily doses per 1,000 inhabitants per day. There was a total of 272 antidepressant-positive cases, which were divided in three groups: 1. suicide or possible suicide caused by antidepressant drugs, 2. suicide or possible suicide caused by other means (including other drugs and other toxic agents), and 3. other deaths.

Amitriptyline was the agent most commonly involved in suicide or possible suicide caused by antidepressants, and it was also the most commonly sold antidepressant. When corrected for sales, trimipramine was most frequently involved as the causal agent.

Conversely, despite frequent sales, lofepramine appeared only rarely to be involved. This may be related to lower toxicity of lofepramine, reduced lofepramine absorption at overdose and/or to differences in the administration of various antidepressant drugs to patients with differing degrees of risk of suicide.