Benzodiazepines increase suicide risk (review + VIGIAccess information)

Benzodiazepines are one of the more popular drugs being used by long haulers. When used long-term, they can lead to severe withdrawal effects. Many doctors aren’t aware of this and many did not receive training on how to taper patients off these drugs (e.g. how to use specialty pharmacies to make it easier for the patient to control dosages).

They also seem to increase suicide risk. I don’t know if Ativan played a role in Heidi Ferrer’s death. She seemed to have written about her Lexapro withdrawal several years ago in 2012. Lexapro is a SSRI where suicide is one of the side effects.

The paper Prescribed Benzodiazepines and Suicide Risk: A Review of the Literature argues that:

Benzodiazepines appear to cause an overall increase in the risk of attempting or completing suicide. Possible mechanisms of prosuicidal effects may include increases in impulsivity or aggression, rebound or withdrawal symptoms, and toxicity in overdose.

This seems to line up with VIGIAccess data. To search the database, go to http://www.vigiaccess.org/

  • Click the disclaimer
  • Type in xanax, ativan, or the name of another benzodiazepine.
  • Click on Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) to expand it
  • Click on Psychiatric disorders
  • Near the time of that drop-down category, it will say “completed suicide”. If you divide that number of by the total number of ADRs, you will get a percentage that’s much higher for other drugs like tylenol, covid-19 vaccine, etc.