In a study from the University of Chicago, scientists found that folic acid supplements may help reduce suicide risk.
They used data from the health insurance claims of 866,586 patients and looked at the link between folic acid treatment and suicide attempts over a two-year period.
The team found that patients who filled prescriptions for folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, experienced a 44% reduction in suicidal events (suicide attempts and intentional self-harm).
They are hopeful that these findings could improve suicide prevention efforts, especially because of how accessible folic acid is.
A previous study from the group looked for links between the risk of attempting suicide and 922 different prescribed drugs.
The study simultaneously screened each drug for associations with increases and decreases in suicide attempts.
Surprisingly, folic acid was associated with a decreased risk of suicide attempts, along with drugs expected to be associated with the risk of suicide, like antidepressants, anxiolytics, and antipsychotics.
To investigate and further confirm the link between folic acid and suicide risk, the team did this new study and focused specifically on folic acid.
They found even after adjusting for all these factors, filling a prescription for folic acid was still associated with a decreased risk of attempting suicide.
The team even found that the longer a person took folic acid, the lower their risk of suicide attempt tended to be.
Each month of being prescribed folic acid was linked to an additional 5% decrease in the risk of suicide attempts during the 24-month follow-up period of their study.
They also that maybe people who take vitamin supplements, in general, want to improve their health and would thus be less likely to attempt suicide.
To address this possibility, they did a similar analysis with another supplement, vitamin B12, as a negative control.
But unlike folic acid, there didn’t seem to be any relationship between vitamin B12 and the risk of suicide.
If their findings are confirmed in the new research, folic acid would be a safe, inexpensive, and widely available suicide prevention strategy, and potentially help save thousands of lives.
If you care about mental health, please read studies about the key to depression recovery, and Omega-3 fatty acids could protect memory in healthy older people.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about medications for depression, and results showing too much sugar in your diet could make you to have these mental problems.
The study was conducted by Robert Gibbons et al and published in JAMA Psychiatry.
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