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C. An Extensive Database Search on Antidepressants and Suicide

Narrator: This is Science Today. At the UCLA Center for PharmacoGenomics and Clinical Pharmacology, researchers look into the genetic basis of response to antidepressant treatment. Julio Licinio, co-director of the center, says to understand who responds well and who doesn't, they look at genetics. To do that, patients at the clinic are treated with antidepressants but when recent reports began linking antidepressant use to suicidal behavior, Licinio launched a new study.

Licinio: I became concerned that I might be putting patients at risk, so I examined all available data from different perspectives and the conclusions that I had were pretty different from what was being said out there.

Narrator: Licinio's search of studies in a national database from 1960 to 2004 on antidepressants and suicide, found that since the introduction of drugs like Prozac in 1988, suicide rates have actually plummeted.

Licinio: The more that the drugs are prescribed, the fewer suicides we have.

Narrator: Licinio's conclusion was that the biggest cause of suicide in the United States is not antidepressants, but rather untreated depression. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.