Swedish suicide rate declines through increased anti-depressant use

suicide-pillsAnti-depressants have been credited with saving hundreds of lives each year in Sweden as a new study shows the suicide rate has declined significantly.

The report findings, revealed in The Local, show that 1,783 Swedes committed suicide in 1995 compared to 1,451 when measured a decade later. During this period the rate of use of anti-depressants among the adult population increased dramatically.

“This should be taken into consideration in the development of national guidelines for the treatment of depression,” according to Goran Isacsson from Karolinska University Hospital’s research team which commissioned the report for the Swedish medical journal Lakartidningen.

There is widespread belief, particularly amongst Swedes, that their country has one of the highest European suicide rates. The misconception dates back to a speech by former US President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950’s which made the assertion based on an inaccurate intelligence briefing.

However, statistics from the World Health Organisation show that in fact Lithuania holds the highest suicide rate in Europe; 75.6/100,000 in males and 16.1/100,000 for females. In Sweden the rates are 19.7/100,000 for males and 8.0/100,000 among women. Germany, France and even Australia and New Zealand all have higher suicide levels.

The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare has stated that it wants to pursue the path of conversational therapy in the first instance for depression sufferers, arguing that the use of prescribed medicines is unnecessary as conversational treatment achieves similar results.

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