Correlation, causation, and a suicidal link with coffee

A Harvard Gazette article centers on the eternal question “does correlation imply causation?” The article has this headline and opening paragraph:

Coffee drinking tied to lower risk of suicide

Drinking several cups of coffee daily appears to reduce the risk of suicide in men and women by about 50 percent, according to a new study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The study was published online July 2 in The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry….

A coffee cup. Photo: Centers for Disease Control.

A coffee cup. Photo: Centers for Disease Control.

This is one of the few reports to explicitly state that coffee seems to cause (“Drinking several cups of coffee daily appears to reduce”) a life-or-death effect in people who drink it. In so doing, this report may be a watershed (and/or coffeeshed) in the history of biomedical science, and in the field of biological psychiatry.

BONUS: The report also says, a few paragraphs later, “In spite of the findings, the authors do not recommend that depressed adults increase caffeine consumption…”

(Thanks to investigator Corky White for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS: (unrelated): The Stephen King of suicidology is now president

BONUS (unrelated): More from Professor Lester