Archive for October, 2022

Could Folic Acid Help Prevent Suicide?

Open hand holding round pink pill.

A surprising medication may have a role to play in suicide prevention

A recent study has shown a surprising conclusion: people who take folic acid supplements may be at reduced risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.

That’s according to researchers at the University of Chicago, who first became aware of a possible connection when a previous study looked at the effects of 922 medications on suicide risk. Most of the medications that were found to affect suicidality were what the researchers expected: antidepressants, antipsychotics, and so on. But surprisingly, folic acid (vitamin B9) also popped up in the study as a medication associated with reduced suicide risk.

“When we first saw this result, we thought it was pregnancy. Pregnant women take folic acid, and pregnant women tend to have a low suicide rate, so it’s just a false association. So, we just did a quick analysis to restrict it to men. But we saw exactly the same effect in men,” said Dr. Robert Gibbons, lead author of the study. After controlling for confounding factors, such as age, gender, other medications, and mental health conditions, the link between folic acid and reduced suicide attempts persisted.

The researchers also speculated that people who take a vitamin supplement might be trying to improve their health, and perhaps that means they’re less likely to be suicidal. But when they looked at another vitamin supplement, B12, they found no correlation — there really does seem to be something unique to folic acid.

The study results highlight the reality that suicide is preventable.

It’s important not to make too much of these results. This is only a single study, and while that study found a correlation, there is still no proof of a causal relationship between folic acid and reduced risk of suicide. More research needs to be done to determine whether folic acid is an effective suicide prevention tool.

However, this study drives home the point that suicidality is a medical condition like any other, and it can be treated with appropriate interventions. Medication is one piece of the puzzle, as is therapy and proper mental health care, including competent patient monitoring and frequency of visits.

People at risk of suicide need access to resources when they are most in danger and ongoing support from family, friends, and healthcare providers. Suicide is a preventable tragedy.

If you lost a loved one to suicide, we can fight for accountability.

There are many interventions that we know help to prevent suicide: therapy, support from loved ones, medication, mental health treatment, and, when necessary, inpatient treatment.

Physicians and other healthcare providers need to follow standards of care and take immediate action to protect patients at risk of suicide. When they do not, lives are put at risk — and accountability must be pursued.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, we would be honored to listen to your story and explain your legal rights and options. Our conversation is confidential, and there is no obligation, just answers. Contact the Law Offices of Skip Simpson for a free consultation. We’re based in Texas and represent families throughout the United States.