September 14, 2004 02:00 PM

Top advisers with the Food and Drug Administration on Monday reversed a decade-old position and admitted that kids who use anti-depressant drugs are at a greater risk of attempting suicide than those who don’t.

The FDA also concluded that, in the vast majority of cases, suicidal thoughts were brought on by the drugs themselves – not as a result of the youngsters’ underlying depression, The Washington Post reports.

The FDA warning, which followed the group’s most comprehensive safety analysis yet of the most widely used drugs to treat depression, was delivered at a news conference by Dr. Robert Temple, director of the FDA’s office of medical policy.

“I think we now all believe there is an increase in suicidal thinking and action that is consistent across all the drugs,” Dr. Temple said, according to The New York Times.

The families of several youngsters who have taken anti-depressant drugs attended the hearing where Dr. Temple made his announcement.

Among the findings, Temple announced that, on average, children on medication for depression are at twice the risk of committing suicide as those on sugar pills (placebos). The findings of the case study were actually known last March, but the FDA had held off presenting its findings to the public because, as Dr. Temple told The Post: “Scaring people needlessly … is worrisome also.”

In April, PEOPLE reported on families who were pushing the FDA for greater scrutiny of antidepressants and the link to suicide among kids. Click here for the story.

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