The study found a link between folic acid supplementation and a 44% decrease in suicide attempts and self-harm.
A new study from the University of Chicago looked at the relationship between folic acid treatment and suicide attempts over a two-year period. Researchers found that patients who had prescriptions for folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, experienced a 44% reduction in suicidal events (suicide attempts and intentional self-harm).
The study used data from health insurance claims for 866,586 patients. The researchers focused on folic acid and took into account many potential confounding factors, including age, gender, mental health diagnoses, other central nervous system drugs, conditions that affect folic acid metabolism, and more. Even after adjusting for all of these factors, those who had a prescription for folic acid were still associated with a lower risk of attempting suicide.
The researchers also found that the longer a person took folic acid, the lower the risk of attempting suicide. Each month of folic acid prescribing was associated with an additional 5% reduction in the risk of suicide attempts during the 24-month follow-up period of their study.
Because research in this area is relatively new, researchers cannot yet determine whether the relationship between folic acid and suicidal events is causal. Therefore, it is still not known whether taking folic acid will directly reduce a person’s suicide risk. The researchers are following up this study with a large-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) to test whether folic acid directly reduces the risk of suicidal events, including thinking, attempts, and achievement.
In response to this article, Dr. Joshua Roffman, director of the Early Brain Development Initiative at Massachusetts Public, said,
“This is an important study linking the use of folic acid – a B vitamin – to a reduced risk of suicide attempts in a very large group of patients in the United States, using insurance databases. Suicide is a devastating outcome, and the potential for an inexpensive, safe and widely available intervention to prevent some suicides It can have a significant impact on overall health.This possibility is also supported by previous work from our laboratory and others indicating the protective effects of prenatal folic acid exposure on other mental health outcomes, such as autism and schizophrenia, in young adults.However, these new findings show an association It is not a causal relationship, and would require prospective randomized controlled studies involving individuals at high risk of suicide, to provide definitive answers about whether folic acid can protect against self-harm.Given the benign nature of the intervention and the relative paucity of drug-based interventions showing evidence for prevention of self-harm suicide, the necessity of these experiments is very clear.”
MQ Dr. Joshua Roffman and his team at Harvard University funded a study that for the first time explored whether exposure to folic acid at the earliest opportunity – when a baby is growing in the womb – can protect the brain from developing psychotic symptoms. You can read more about this study over here.
If you are experiencing a mental health emergency or are concerned about someone else, please contact support. Below is a list of emergency contact numbers and helplines And organizations that may be able to help.