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Jobs, Cleaner Exhaust Fumes May Be Behind Fall in U.K. Suicides


Jobs, Cleaner Exhaust Fumes May Be Behind Fall in U.K. Suicides

By Chantal Britt
Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Jobs and less toxic car exhaust fumes may be behind a drop in suicides among young men in the U.K. to the lowest level in 30 years, researchers said in the British Medical Journal.
Reductions in antidepressant use among under-18s have not led to an increase in suicidal behavior in youngsters, another study found.
Researchers at the University of Bristol set out to explain why suicide rates in young people in England and Wales have declined steadily in the past 10 years after year-on-year increases from the 1970s to the early 1990s. They found that a rise in employment, government efforts to curb suicides, and laws to reduce carbon monoxide in cars may be preventing deaths.
``Favorable changes in several different factors -- levels of employment, substance misuse and antidepressant prescribing as well as policy focus on suicide and vehicle exhaust gas legislation -- may have contributed to the recent reductions, co-author David Gunnell, a professor of epidemiology at the university, wrote.
Gunnell explored trends in suicide in young men that showed a decline since 1998, after increases in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. The overall suicide rate for 15- to 24- year-old men in England and Wales dropped to 8.5 per 100,000 in 2005 from 16.6 per 100,000 people in 1990.
While rates for women are also at their lowest levels since 1968, the proportion of those who choose hanging has jumped, the research showed.
Antidepressants
In a separate study also conducted at the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Bristol in collaboration with the Office for National Statistics and IMS Health, researchers studied effects of the antidepressant restrictions on suicides.
They found no evidence that reducing the levels of prescriptions of antidepressants in half led to an increase in deaths from suicide or hospital admissions as a result of self harm. Regulators in 2003 restricted antidepressant prescription to adolescents and children, when trial data raised concern that antidepressants may lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Only half of adults and a quarter of adolescents who suffer from depression in the U.S. take antidepressants, and nearly half of all adults discontinue after just a few weeks, Gregory Simmons from the Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, wrote in an accompanying editorial.
``In truth, it would be surprising if antidepressants had any effect -- positive or negative -- on the risk of suicide in the general population, Simmons said. ``Only 3 percent of adolescents dying by suicide in New York City had toxicology data showing recent use of antidepressants."
To contact the reporter on this story: Chantal Britt at cbritt@bloomberg.net .
Last Updated: February 15, 2008 00:23 EST



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