Do antiepileptic drugs raise the risk for suicide attempts?

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  • In patients with a lifetime history of depression or no neurological conditions, the association observed between antiepileptic drug (AED) use and increased odds of non-fatal suicide attempts (SA) may be explained by the presence of underlying psychiatric disorders.

 Why this matters 

  • Several retrospective studies evaluating the association of AED use and risk of SA have provided conflicting results.

Study design

  • This case-control study compared the use of AED in patients who attempted suicide (n=506) and those who did not (n=2829).
  • The primary outcome was non-fatal SA in the last 30 d.
  • Funding: Not disclosed.

  Key results

  • AED use in the 12 mo prior to enrolment was found to be associated with increased odds of SA (OR, 3.1).
  • The association between AED use and odds of SA was not significant overall (OR, 1.5).
  • No association was observed for patients with neurological disorders (OR, 1.1) as opposed to patients with depression (OR, 1.6), but unmeasured confounding was suspected.


  • Patients with less severe suicidal episodes, hospitalized were not included.