POST TIME: 13 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Chronic pain may drive some to suicide

Chronic pain may drive some to suicide

Suffering debilitating pain every day may be so unbearable that some decide to take their own lives, new research suggests.

More than 25 million US adults have some level of daily pain, and 10.5 million have considerable pain every day.

In this study, researchers led by Dr. Emiko Petrosky from the US National Center for Injury Prevention and Control analyzed data on more than 123,000 suicides in 18 states between 2003 and 2014.

In 8.8 per cent of those suicides, there was evidence of chronic pain. And the percentage increased from 7.4 per cent in 2003 to 10.2 per cent in 2014.

Back pain, cancer pain and arthritis accounted for a large portion of chronic pain conditions in people who committed suicide, according to the study. The research also found that anxiety and depression were diagnosed more often in suicide victims with pain than in those without it.

More than half (54 per cent) of suicide victims with chronic pain died of gun-related injuries and 16 percent by opioid overdose.

Among suicide victims with chronic pain for whom toxicology results were available, opioids were much more likely to be present at the time of death than in those without pain, according to the study.

But an accompanying editorial suggested the picture is more complicated than first appears.

"These results argue for a more nuanced view of the role of opioids in suicide among persons with pain," said editorial author Mark Ilgen, who's with the University of Michigan's department of psychiatry.

"The review of suicide notes provided by [the researchers] highlights that more than two-thirds of suicide decedents with a pain condition mentioned their pain, as well as longstanding suffering from this pain, as a direct contributor to the suicidal crisis," Ilgen said in the editorial.

"This observation highlights the need to improve pain treatment, not only for the direct effect on pain and functioning, but also as a method to raise hope in persons with chronic pain," he said.

The editorial noted that the role of opioids in suicide risk should be explored and suicide prevention should be a component of care for those suffering from chronic pain.

Living with chronic or long-term pain is tough. When you have chronic pain and depression, it's even tougher.

Depression magnifies pain. It makes everyday living more difficult. Still, it's important to know that medications and psychotherapy can help relieve the depression and make chronic pain more tolerable.

Chronic pain gets worse as changes in your body make you more sensitive to pain. You may start to hurt in places that used to feel fine.

It can disrupt sleep and cause you to wake up at night. This can make you tired during and not as productive during the day. The ongoing pain can cause additional irritation and make it difficult for you to deal with others. If you have to care for children or work full-time, all this may make your life seem too challenging. These feelings can lead to irritability, depression, and even suicide.

Because depression in people with chronic pain frequently goes undiagnosed, it often goes untreated.

Pain provokes an emotional response in everyone. If you have pain, you may also have anxiety, irritability, and agitation. These are normal feelings when you're hurting. Usually, as pain subsides, so does the stressful response.