The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays have long been an especially painful season for lonely people. Now, there’s good news: Suicide rates among younger and older Americans have been declining since the early 1990s. There’s also puzzling news: No one really knows why.

Researcher Robert McKeown says, “For 40 years adolescent suicide rates rose. Then, the rates began to decline in the late 1980s for adults 65 and older and in the early 1990s for adolescents and young adults. But many people weren’t aware; they kept saying suicides were increasing when it was no longer true.

“In our medical-literature searches, we began finding international studies that suggested a correlation of declining suicide rates with an increase in the use of new-generation antidepressants. But?if that was the reason, why haven’t the suicide rates of those in the 25-to-64 age brackets declined, too??We need to understand how something this significant could turn on a dime.”

That understanding is particularly important because the Food and Drug Administration has warned physicians about the risk of increased suicidal ideas and attempts, particularly among children, associated with certain antidepressants that are used for the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders and some types of personality disorders. These new findings contradict the Food and Drug Administration’s warning about selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications, also known as SSRI drugs.

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