Sleeping tablets have been associated with a four-fold increase in suicide risk in the elderly. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Geriatrics have shown that, even after adjusting for the presence of psychiatric conditions, sedatives and hypnotics were both associated with an increased risk of suicide.
Anders Carlsten and Margda Waern from Gothenburg University carried out a case control study to determine whether specific types of psychoactive drugs were associated with suicide risk in later life. According to Carlsten, "Sedative treatment was associated with an almost fourteen-fold increase of suicide risk in the crude analyses and remained an independent risk factor for suicide even after adjustment for the presence of mental disorders. Having a current prescription for a hypnotic was associated with a four-fold increase in suicide risk in the adjusted model".
The researchers speculate that the drugs may raise suicide risk by triggering aggressive or impulsive behavior, or by providing the means for people to take an overdose. They also point out the possibility that these drugs may merely be markers for some other factor related to suicide risk, such as somatic illness, functional disability, alcohol use disorder, interpersonal problems, lack of social network or sleep disturbance. Carlsten said, "Persons with these problems might be more likely to seek health care and perhaps more likely to receive prescriptions for psychotropic drugs. However, given the extremely high prescription rates for these drugs, a careful evaluation of the suicide risk should always precede prescribing a sedative or hypnotic to an elderly individual".
Notes to Editors
1. Are sedatives and hypnotics associated with increased suicide risk in the elderly?
Anders Carlsten and Margda Waern
BMC Geriatrics (in press)
During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/2048581828230055_article.pdf?random=463968
After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcgeriatr/
Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.
Article citation and URL available on request at firstname.lastname@example.org on the day of publication
2. BMC Geriatrics is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in all aspects of the health and healthcare of older people, including the effects of healthcare systems and policies. The journal also welcomes research focused on the aging process, including cellular, genetic, and physiological processes and cognitive modifications. BMC Geriatrics (ISSN 1471-2318) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE and Google Scholar.
3. BioMed Central (www.biomedcentral.com) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.