Suicide by pill? Manufacturers must supplement instruction leaflets


One study indicates an increased risk of suicide in the use of birth control pills. From now on there must be a warning on the package leaflet.

The birth control pills can increase the risk of thrombosis, is now known. As a reaction to a study, the pill manufacturers now have to list other possible side effects: they may increase the risk of depression and suicide. The change was initiated in November 2018 by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Package inserts must be updated

There are already several studies that show that hormonal contraception can trigger depressive moods or depression. The investigation, which has now given the impetus for changing the leaflets , comes from Denmark. A team of gynecologists led by Prof. Øjvind Lidegaard from the Copenhagen University Hospital evaluated data from 500,000 Danish women between the ages of 15 and 34 years. Of the participants, 6,999 attempted suicide and 71 ended their lives. It was noticeable: Women who used the pill, had about twice as high risk for suicide attempt and about three times as high risk for a completed suicide. The study results were published in the journal American Journal of Psychiatry .

The researchers point out that the study can not prove a direct causality between taking the pill and a possible suicide risk. But it has long been proven that the hormones estrogen and progestin can negatively affect the mood.

Especially young women and girls are affected

It’s not the first lidal exam that sheds light on the effects of the pill. In an earlier analysis, the researcher has already shown that younger women and girls between the ages of 15 and 19 were more likely to be prescribed antidepressants when they were using hormonal contraception. For the first time, 80 percent of affected women who took an estrogen progestin pill were prescribed antidepressants. For pure progestins the prescription was 120 percent higher than for women who did not use hormonal contraception. 

Experts are therefore calling for women to seek medical help if they experience depressive moods shortly after the start of hormonal contraception.