Navigation Links
Migraine, Chronic Back Pain Tied to Higher Suicide Risk

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- People who endure chronic migraines or back pain are more likely to attempt suicide, whether or not they also suffer from depression or another psychiatric condition, according to a new study.

"Clinicians who are seeing patients with certain pain conditions should be aware they are at increased risk of suicide," said study co-author Mark Ilgen, of the Veterans Affairs Serious Mental Illness Treatment Resource and Evaluation Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.

"Although undoubtedly psychiatric factors are important, there might be aspects of the pain that in and of themselves increase a person's risk," Ilgen said. "There might be something about someone with significant pain that puts them at increased risk."

The wide-ranging study, published online May 22 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, involved more than 4.8 million people who received care from the U.S. Veterans Health Administration during fiscal year 2005. Researchers identified those suffering from chronic pain and tracked them for the next three years to see if any died from suicide.

The research team then looked for associations between suicide death -- the 10th most common cause of death in the United States -- and clinical diagnoses of chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, migraines, neuropathy, headaches or tension headaches, fibromyalgia and psychogenic pain.

They found that all pain conditions except arthritis and neuropathy were associated with elevated suicide risk. But when they took into account the mental-health problems that chronic pain patients also had, the associations reduced for all but three types of chronic pain: back pain, migraines and psychogenic pain, which stems from psychological factors.

Dr. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, a retired Army colonel and psychiatrist living in Washington, D.C., said the study clearly reinforces the anecdotal link between pain and suicide.

"It makes sense that pain is a risk factor for suicide," she said. "Often, suicide has several different things going on, but pain can be the straw that breaks the camel's back in terms of a person's decision not to go on."

Therapists performing a suicide-risk evaluation should consider adding a question regarding pain to the standard questions aimed at suicidal thoughts and planning, she said.

"It's not a standard question: 'Are you in pain?'" Ritchie said. "I would ask, 'Are you in pain?,' or 'Is pain an issue for you?'"

Psychogenic pain increased people's risk of suicide the most, followed by migraines and back pain. Psychogenic pain is chronic pain caused or exacerbated by mental or emotional problems, and Ilgen said it is a rare and not well understood condition.

"We think that's not so much about psychogenic pain per se, but the fact that the pain itself is poorly understood and may be poorly managed," Ilgen said. "There's not a clear treatment plan for that type of pain. It's likely that patients with this type of pain may be frustrated with their care and more hopeless and more at risk for suicide."

Hopelessness also could play a part in the elevated risk of suicide for migraine and chronic back pain sufferers -- two common problems in the United States. Back pain, for instance, is the second most common pain complaint among Veterans Health Administration patients, behind only arthritis.

"Patients with these pain conditions also may be more likely to feel hopeless and to have impairments in occupational or social functioning that could lead more directly to suicidal thoughts and behaviors," according to the study.

"Negative expectations about one's ability to effectively manage or treat pain could lead to suicidal ideation, and these effects might be greatest for certain conditions, such as psychogenic pain, that do not have clear or effective treatments and may be stigmatized," the researchers said.

Disability also could be a factor in the increased suicide risk, particularly for people with back pain who used to be healthy and active, Ritchie said.

Ilgen said it is not known whether there are unique warning signs of suicide for chronic pain patients. He urged family and friends of patients to keep a close eye out for standard warning signs, such as intense depression, expressions of hopelessness, statements about suicidal thoughts or plans, or any indication that the person is not oriented toward the future.

"My best recommendation is to encourage the patient to reach out for professional help," Ilgen said. "Ask about their suicidal thoughts. Don't just skirt the issue; directly ask."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about suicide prevention.

SOURCES: Mark Ilgen, Ph.D, Veterans Affairs Serious Mental Illness Treatment Resource and Evaluation Center, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, M.D., retired Army colonel and psychiatrist, Washington, D.C.; May 22, 2013 JAMA Psychiatry, online

Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Colic May Be Linked to Childhood Migraine, Study Says
2. Botox Offers Little Relief for Migraine, Study Finds
3. Losing Weight May Ease Chronic Heartburn
4. Discovery of a novel medicine for the treatment of chronic wounds
5. Women with chronic physical disabilities are no less likely to bear children
6. Deb Seevers’ New Memoir Chronicles Love, Loss and Family
7. Chronic pain ranks well below drug addiction as a major health problem in new poll
8. Chronic Pain Often Follows Stroke
9. Despite free health care, household income affects chronic disease control in kids
10. hCGTreatments / Diet Doc hCG Diets & Weight Loss Plans Reports Newly Designed Prescription hCG Diet Plans Beneficial in Reducing Painful And Chronic Joint Pain
11. Recovery from Chronic Prostatitis with New Herbal Product Takes Three Months, States Wuhan Dr. Li's Clinic
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Migraine, Chronic Back Pain Tied to Higher Suicide Risk
(Date:11/28/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Beginning November 30th at 6:00 a.m. EST until 11:59 p.m. EST, ... savings of up to 20% off orders $80 or more to free gifts with purchases, ... hours. , As a competitive e-commerce website for skin care and cosmetic needs, customers will ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... , ... According to an article published November 13th on, ... D.C. revolved around the fact that proper dental care, both at-home and in the ... between periodontal disease (more commonly referred to as gum disease) and diabetes. According to ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 27, 2015 , ... The rapid speed at which Americans ... more care is needed, especially with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive conditions becoming ... The forgotten part of this equation: 80 percent of medical care occurs in ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... "When ... said an inventor from Hillside, N.J. "Many people catch diseases simply from sitting ... individuals will always be protected from germs." , He developed the patent-pending QUDRATECS ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... ProSidebar: Fashion is a set of ... With ProSidebar: Fasion, video editors can easily add an informative sidebar to any FCPX ... Utilize presets featuring self-animating drop zones, lines, bars, and text with the ease ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/29/2015)... Royal Philips  (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) revealed a portfolio ... Society of North America Annual Meeting (RSNA), beginning today ... Chicago . Visitors to the Philips booth ... integrated Diagnostic Imaging, Clinical Informatics, Image Guided Therapy and ... and create a superior patient experience. ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... Une nouvelle approche consistant ... contre le cancer avancé.    --> ... au traitement photodynamique au Bremachlorin contre le cancer ... nouvelle approche consistant à combiner l,immunothérapie au traitement ...    Clinical Cancer Research . ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... Nov. 26, 2015 ... of the "2016 Global Tumor Marker ... Volume and Sales Segment Forecasts, Innovative Technologies, ... report to their offering. --> ... the "2016 Global Tumor Marker Testing ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: