Chronic Pain May Be Contributor to Suicide

MONDAY, Sept. 10, 2018 — Chronic pain may be an important contributor to suicide, with 8.8 percent of suicide decedents having evidence of chronic pain, according to a study published online Sept. 11 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Emiko Petrosky, M.D., M.P.H., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis of National Violent Death Reporting System data to estimate the prevalence of chronic pain among suicide decedents with and without chronic pain who died between Jan. 1, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2014.

The researchers found that 8.8 percent of the 123,181 suicide decedents included in the study had evidence of chronic pain; from 2003 to 2014, this percentage increased from 7.4 to 10.2 percent. Overall, 53.6 and 16.2 percent of suicide decedents with chronic pain died of firearm-related injuries and opioid overdose, respectively.

“Providers caring for patients with chronic pain should be aware of the potential increased risk for suicide, and more effort may be needed to diagnose, manage, and treat chronic pain and comorbid mental health conditions,” the authors write. “Continued surveillance and research are needed to better understand the burden of chronic pain in the United States.”

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Posted: September 2018

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