“About 20% [of patients with chronic pain] most likely have passing suicidal thoughts; 5% have active thoughts; and about 5% have a past history,” said Martin Cheatle, PhD, director of the Pain and Chemical Dependency Program at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. “So, it is a pretty significant problem.”
Recent research has now expanded its scope to determine what chronic pain conditions are most closely linked to suicide risk. A study conducted in Spain found that suicidal ideation is highly prevalent among patients with severe fibromyalgia, a disorder that is characterized by chronic pain, sleep disturbances and depression (Pain Pract 2014 Jan 17. [Epub ahead of print]). Of 373 patients with fibromyalgia, 179 (48%) reported suicidal ideation. Of those, 148 (39.7%) described what was considered to be passive suicidal ideation and 31 (8.3%) reported active suicidal ideation. Risk for suicide was more commonly related to symptoms of psychological distress (depression, anxiety, sleep quality, mental health) than to physical symptoms of the disease (pain, general health).
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