Evidence for beneficial effects of antidepressants on suicidality in depressive patients

A systematic review
  • Hans-Jürgen MöllerEmail author


The role of antidepressants in suicide prevention is a major public health question, given the high prevalence of both depression and depression-related suicidality. Therefore all means available should be utilised to clarify the influence of antidepressants on suicidality. This paper gives a comprehensive overview of the positive effects of antidepressants on suicidality. In the first section, principal methodological issues related to suicidology in general as well as to clinical and epidemiological studies that investigate the influence of antidepressants on suicidality are discussed. In the second section, the results of controlled clinical studies on the efficacy of antidepressants in suicidality are presented. The third section reports on the results of other types of studies, especially epidemiological studies. Altogether, there seems to be reasonable evidence from different research approaches that antidepressants are able to reduce suicidal ideation and also suicidal behaviour in depressive patients. While the evidence for the beneficial effect on suicidal ideation comes from randomised control group studies, some of which used a placebo arm, the evidence for the prophylactic effect on suicidal behaviour, especially suicide, was primarily obtained from well-designed epidemiological studies.

Key words

antidepressant suicidal ideation suicidal behaviour 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag Darmstadt 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryLudwig-Maximilians-UniversityMunichGermany

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