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Can Suicide Risk Actually be Lowered with ADHD Medications?

February 12th, 2016

ADHD medications are often in the news because someone overdosed on these drugs, either accidentally or on purpose. ADHD drugs are commonly abused, especially by students and those who want to stay awake for longer periods of time. Some researchers are now saying that some of the benefits provided by ADHD medications may be overlooked, and one of these benefits could be a reduction in the number of suicides and attempts at suicide. The latest research on these drugs and their use can be found in The Lancet Psychiatry journal. The black box warnings found on ADHD medications can be confusing, and University of Montreal and CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal researchers teamed up to identify the risks and consequences including the suicide risk that may be associated with these drugs.

One of the authors of the study on ADHD medications and suicide risk was Dr. Alain Lesage, who stated “Health Canada has issued a series of black-box warnings about the suicidal potential of ADHD medications. However, these warnings have failed to take into account epidemiological studies showing the opposite, that increased use of this medication has been associated with reduced suicide risk in adolescents.” Study co-author and scientific researcher Dr. Edouard Kouassi wrote that “Clearly, the increased use of ADHD drugs indicates that they might actually reduce rather than augment the risk of suicide.” The study authors also concluded that “Randomized controlled trials have shown ADHD medication to alleviate the usual symptoms of hyperactivity and attention deficit. It has also been associated with improvements in school performance, better self-esteem, and reductions in conduct disorders, drug abuse, and pregnancies in girls. In fact, these disorders or precarious social situations are especially associated with increased risk of suicide, not the actual taking of these drugs, which, on the contrary, may prevent suicide.”

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