Association between folic acid prescription fills and suicide attempts and intentional self-harm

JAMAScott Cunningham MD PhD, et al. | October 05, 2022



Between 2000 and 2018 the suicide rate increased 30%, thus more attention should focus on suicide prevention. In this study, folic acid treatment was associated with a 44% reduction in suicides. The proactive supplementation of dietary folate in patients at risk for depression, and particularly suicide, may be one such preventive measure.

Folic acid prescription data were obtained from Marketscan Commercial Claims and Encounters databases. Folic acid was typically prescribed for pain. Suicide attempts and self-harm data were obtained from outpatient visits or hospital admissions. Cyanocobalamin was used as a negative control.

The folic acid prescription fill data from 866,586 patients were reviewed for 24 months. There were 261 and 895 suicidal events among patients who were and were not treated with folic acid, respectively (HR=0.56).