Impact of Antidepressant Prescriptions on Suicidal Behavior in Times of Severe Financial Strain

Valentina Sacchi, Giorgio Mattei, Laura Musetti, Gian Maria Galeazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This descriptive study observes the relationship between antidepressant prescriptions and the suicide rate in Italy in the 2000s to the mid-2010s, which includes a period of severe economic crisis. The observation period was from 2000 to 2015. Suicide and unemployment rates disaggregated by age and sex were collected from the Italian Institute of Statistics. Statistical analyses were performed using correlations between suicide rates and the defined daily dose, with reference to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and other types of antidepressants. Fixed-effects panel regressions were also run. Increases in SSRIs prescriptions were associated with decreases in suicide rates among both men and women. However, when the analyses were adjusted for the rate of growth of the unemployment rate and for gross domestic product, the associations were weaker. The potential protective factor of SSRIs with respect to suicidal behavior may be reduced by severe recessions, especially when unemployment increases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-563
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Antidepressants
  • economic crisis
  • fixed-effects panel regression
  • Italy
  • suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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