Date of Award


Document Type

Independent Study

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Anti-depressant therapy is one of the most common treatments for depression. However, the increasing criticism regarding anti-depressant therapy and increased suicidality has caused both health care providers and the public to question their widespread use (Lader, 2007). In October 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated that a black box warning be added to anti-depressant medications in order to alert patients of increased risk of suicidal thoughts in the pediatric and adolescent population. This black box warning was expanded further to include patients between 18 to 24 years-of-age at the direction of the FDA in May of 2007 (Friedman & Leon, 2007). It has been noted that a common reason patients do not report their symptoms of depression is due to fear that the physician will recommend an anti-depressant (Bell et al., 2011). Every year in the United States (U.S.), 30,000 people die of suicide and an additional 650,000 people are treated in emergency departments after attempting suicide (Schreiber, Culpepper, & Fife, 2012), making it imperative to investigate the link between anti-depressants and suicidality. Studies which focused on the correlation between anti-depressant therapy and suicidality as well as studies that looked at additional factors (i.e. genetics, toxicological findings) that could have a strong impact on suicidality were reviewed. The findings of this project indicate that, in studies examining whether there is a correlation between anti-depressant therapy and suicidality, there are too many unknown factors to determine whether anti-depressant therapy is the lone factor responsible for the development of suicidality in patients. Additionally, there is a great need for research, particularly in the areas of genetics and toxicology, in order to determine whether these factors play a role in the development of suicidality.