SNRIs and Suicide
As with all medications, there are possible side effects and complications associated with taking SNRIs. Suicide and suicidal thoughts are some of the more serious risks involved with antidepressant use (including SNRIs). Since depression itself can cause suicidal thoughts, however, it is difficult to determine whether the suicidal behavior is actually caused by the medications or depression.
SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are prescription medications used for the treatment of depression and a number of other conditions of the brain. As with all antidepressants, there may be an increased risk of suicidal behavior when taking SNRIs.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a special warning about the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior with antidepressant use in children and teenagers. The warning was issued due to concerns that antidepressants seemed to increase the risk of suicidal behavior in children and teenagers in clinical studies.
Although SNRIs are not approved for use in children or teens, they may be used "off-label" for this use.
In clinical studies, it did appear that there was a slightly increased risk of suicidal behavior in children and teenagers who took antidepressants, including SNRIs. In one study, about 4 percent of children and teens taking an antidepressant had suicidal thoughts or behavior, compared to 2 percent of children and teens who were not taking an antidepressant. This study looked at all suicidal behavior, including suicides, attempted suicides, and thoughts about committing suicide. It is important to note that no one in the study actually committed suicide.
It is difficult to know for sure if antidepressants cause suicidal behavior. To make matters more confusing, depression itself can cause suicidal behavior. The bottom line: you should report any signs of suicidal behavior to your healthcare professional, whether you are taking an antidepressant or not.
Certain people seem to be at higher risk for suicidal behavior while taking antidepressants. This includes people with bipolar disorder (or a family history of bipolar disorder) and people who have attempted suicide (or have a family history of suicide attempts).