Psychopharmacological treatment is not associated with reduced suicide ideation and reattempts in an observational follow-up study of suicide attempters.

Michel, Konrad; Gysin-Maillart, Anja; Breit, Sigrid; Walther, Sebastian; Pavlidou, Anastasia (2021). Psychopharmacological treatment is not associated with reduced suicide ideation and reattempts in an observational follow-up study of suicide attempters. Journal of psychiatric research, 140, pp. 180-186. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.05.068

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BACKGROUND

Disorders of mental health are major risk factors for suicidal behavior and require adequate treatment. However, the effect of psychotropic medication on suicidal behavior is unclear.

METHODS

The 120 participants in a randomized clinical trial of a brief therapy for suicide attempters (Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program, ASSIP) reported on repeated suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, depression, and medication in the treatment as usual (TAU), at baseline, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months follow-up. The RCT had no influence on medication prescribed. Drugs prescribed were categorized as any psychotropic, antidepressants plus lithium, and antipsychotics. To assess the effect of long-term medication we identified participants with periods of continuous use of psychotropics and antidepressants plus lithium over twelve months or more, and medication-free participants for the same drug categories during the same time period.

RESULTS

Reattempts and suicide ideation decreased in all drug categories. When comparing participants on medication fulfilling the definition of long-term use with participants without medication, reattempts and suicidal ideation were higher in the psychotropics and the antidepressants/lithium groups. These drug categories were associated with higher depression scores in comparison to no-medication. The survival analysis revealed a higher risk of reattempts in the long-term antidepressants/lithium group in comparison to no-medication. Treatment with the brief psychological therapy ASSIP, added to medication, was associated with a lower risk of reattempts.

LIMITATIONS

The study relied on the patients' reports on treatment as usual in a randomized controlled clinical trial. Blood levels of the psychotropic compounds were not assessed.

CONCLUSIONS

In this observational study of the TAU condition in a clinical trial of a brief psychological therapy for patients who had recently attempted suicide, psychotropic drug use over twelve months or more was not associated with reduced suicide ideation and reattempts. Depression scores suggest that patients on psychotropic medication had more psychiatric pathology. This may be a confounding factor for the effect of medication on suicidal behavior.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Translational Research Center

UniBE Contributor:

Michel, Konrad; Gysin-Maillart, Anja Carolyn; Breit, Sigrid; Walther, Sebastian and Pavlidou, Anastasia

Subjects:

600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health

ISSN:

0022-3956

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Sebastian Walther

Date Deposited:

22 Jun 2021 10:36

Last Modified:

25 Jul 2021 01:36

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.05.068

PubMed ID:

34118635

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Antidepressants Attempted suicide Observational study Psychotropic medication Suicidal ideation

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/156906

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/156906

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