A new study indicates that one in ten deaths by suicide in the United States are committed by sufferers of chronic pain. Authors of the study conclude that the presence of chronic pain is a significant risk factor for suicide in individuals.
The study posted on annals.org does not prove that chronic pain contributed to the suicide of any particular individuals. But it is conclusive that depression and anxiety were much more prevalent among individuals that suffer from chronic pain.
Dr. Emiko Petrosky, the study’s lead author, explains that 25 million Americans suffer from some form of daily pain. A little less than half of them suffer from pain that has a considerable effect on their quality of life.
Petrosky wants physicians to take this risk factor that exists from chronic pain into account when managing the conditions of their patients. Petrosky goes on to express a belief that the chronic pain of patients should be managed with mental health care access to go along with pain medications.
The data used to conduct the study was extracted from information collected from the years 2003 to 2014. The data was courtesy of a Violent Death Reporting System that is maintained by the Centers for Disease Control. More than 123,000 suicide deaths were examined for the study and it was found that nearly 11,000 of these suicide victims had chronic pain issues.
Petrosky notes that the percentage of chronic pain sufferers that committed suicide increased during the years observed in the study. This percentage was 7.3 in 2003 and had risen to 10.2 percent by 2014. The number of Americans that suffer from chronic pain has also risen during the designated time period.
A large number of the chronic pain experienced by the suicide victims were afflicted with back pain, arthritis, or pain that is associated with cancer.
More than half of these suicides were by firearms and 16 percent of victims overdosed on opioids. Pain sufferers were also three times more likely to have opioids in their systems when they committed suicide.
Dr. Paul Nestadt works at John Hopkins school in Baltimore. Nestadt says that the opioid stat is an important one because the drugs increase the individual’s risk for depression. He says that depression is a large contributing factor in cases that thoughts of suicide are actually completed.