MONDAY, Oct. 3, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Folic acid seems to be beneficial for reducing the rate of suicide attempts, according to a study published online Sept. 28 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Robert D. Gibbons, Ph.D., from the University of Chicago, and colleagues used a within-person exposure-only cohort design to study the dynamic association of folic acid prescription fills with suicide attempts and intentional self-harm using data for patients with private health insurance. Data were included for 866,586 patients (81.30 percent female).

The researchers noted 261 suicidal events during the months covered by a folic acid prescription compared with 895 suicidal events during months without folic acid (rate, 4.73 versus 10.61 per 100,000 person-months). The hazard ratio for folic acid for suicide events was 0.56 when adjusting for age and sex, diagnoses related to suicidal behavior, diagnoses related to folic acid deficiency, folate-reducing medications, history of folate-reducing medications, and history of suicidal events; results were similar for the modal dosage of 1 mg per day and for women of childbearing age. A 5 percent decrease in suicidal events per month of additional treatment was seen in a duration-response analysis. No association was seen with suicide attempt in the same analysis with a control supplement.

“These results warrant the conduct of [a randomized clinical trial] with suicidal ideation and behavior as outcomes of interest,” the authors write. “If confirmed, folic acid may be a safe, inexpensive, and widely available treatment for suicidal ideation and behavior.”

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and other industries.

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