While previous studies on chronic pain and suicide have focused on subjects already receiving treatment for their pain, a recent study, published in the November/December issue of the journal of General Hospital Psychiatry, drew upon a broader pool of subjects. The results are notable because the data was adjusted to account for mental illness; even taking these adjustments into account, the results reflect that almost 14 percent of subjects suffering from three or more chronically painful conditions (and not from additional mental illness) reported suicidal thoughts, and almost 6 percent of subjects in this group reported suicide attempts.
While the results confirm that the majority of people suffering from chronic pain do not experience suicidal tendencies, the subjects who do may, according to Florida State University professor Thomas Joiner, be misunderstood in their motivations. The usual assumption is that the suicidal are a hopeless and depressed lot, and Mark Ilgen, the study's lead author, confirmed that pain can certainly depress an otherwise optimistic disposition. Joiner suggests, however, that while "in the public mind, a kind of fearlessness does not seem to fit with suicide…Here, the public mind is mistaken."
In this respect, science has eluded the obvious; the personality profile of the suicidal person experiencing chronic pain may not synch with the hopeless, or weak, image with which most people might associate him or her. For this person, exposure to sustained pain may have weakened natural fears surrounding death, for much of this fear, in most people, is related to unknown pain and suffering. For a person coping with chronic pain, these factors are familiar, and therefore less threatening. According to Joiner, "The natural and deep fear of pain, injury and death stops people from hurting themselves, and this includes people who have high desire for suicide. It might not be as hard for someone who has already had to contend with a lot of physical pain."
Don't cue the Debbie Downer "wah-wah" just yet; the more scientists, doctors, and the public know about what can result from chronic pain, and about factors contributing to suicidal tendencies, the better equipped we are to be there for, and to care for, those who suffer from these conditions.
Wait, so your telling me that people with chronic pains are more likely to attempt suicide than others!?!? Why the hell would some one research that???
Einstein: ..because they can't fund stem-cell research they have to find other things to work on.. lol
It is important because it is widely held that suicide is caused by mental illness, and studies like this cast doubt on that perception, and instead frame suicide as a rational act.
You failed to take into account that the study seems to suggest that those people who suffer from chronic pain without seeming to have any mental illness are those who have suicidal thoughts in mind. But what chronic pain? Physical or emotional? I assume that the study refers to physical chronic pain... but chronic emotional pain which could lead to depression would also lead to it, I suppose.
If those who suffer from severe chronic pain develop suicidal thoughts then it is in the best interests of these people to have a cheerful outlook inspite of the physical pain they feel and that maybe better "anti-pain" pills could be developed and their physicians could monitor their patients for any such signs in order to dissuade them from such thoughts if they occur.
Never lose hope.
The relevance of this study, in my opinion, is in its helping people to understand more widely how chronic pain and suicide can be related. Bear in mind that the percentage of people suffering from chronic pain who also experience suicidal thoughts is pretty small-- 14%. Within that group, only 6% have actually attempted suicide. So, many people who suffer from chronic pain do not feel suicidal, and that's good. But, for those who have family members or friends, or for doctors helping patients through chronic illness and pain, this study can help to increase understanding about what suicide risk might exist within this group.
Chipper, you make a good point; emotional pain could very likely contribute to depression and thus suicidal tendencies. This study did not account for emotional pain-- it was focused on physical pain. But your point about painkillers is apt; treatment for patients with chronic pain might do more than make patients more physically comfortable; it might also help them to maintain a more positive or hopeful outlook, and-- in light of Joiner's point-- might decrease patients' tendency to normalize the experience of pain. I think this makes a good case for the development of pain treatments, even if they don't treat the root condition itself.
Thanks for your comments.
Well Hi every one
if it is very stress this pain whole your body. what is very risk your life that very suffer painful in whole the world. never their perfect your life of pain everywhere. There's nothing that make a sense to be ...
Thank u, in the mind.
This article is completely wrong-headed. Chronic pain sufferers have a simple pheromone deficiency, easily remedied. Just take some ordinary chewing gum, rub the gum on your father's face. Then chew the gum. 150 mg p.o. does the trick, curing all sorts of sociopathy including criminal behavior in delinquents, illegal drug-seeking behavior in addicts, and even perversions. It's the greatest cure in the history of medicine.
Having had a car accident a few years ago and finally starting to feel human again (good days, bad days) I can say a few things about chronic pain.
Pain that still permits you to be active and contribute is easier to cope with.
Pain that can flare up for very little provocation is extremely difficult to cope with.
No idea if/when/how-much recovery is very stressful and hard to cope with.
There were two incidents in flare-up pain where a hospital visit was required and in that state I'd have welcomed death if someone said they were going to mercy-kill me. There was only one episode of truly pondering suicide was after seeing a great deal of improvement suddenly erased by a difficult work-travel week.
Unfortunately a lot of people have zero idea what real chronic pain for months on end actually does to your mental state. I know I sure didn't prior to my experiences. I'd add that a study is just not going to capture the intricacies of the mental aspect of chronic pain nor do they adequately gauge actual pain levels (which are incredibly subjective).
Pain psychologists are a huge blessing - if you're out there and chronic pain is wearing you down, they're worth every penny. They can even help with the frustration of seeing the medical profession run out of options - broken bones the doctors can fix, amputation is something doctors do well too, burns they can fix - but soft-tissue issues about all they can do is help manage pain and complications.
I would have jumped on anything that got rid of the underlying issues rather than a huge stream of pills and in fact I opt to avoid them most days. Some days they are necessary though.
Thank you for the article, Taylor.
Jack_of_hearts, thank you for so eloquently sharing your personal experience with chronic pain. What you've shared may very well help those who are experiencing chronic pain to feel less isolated in their own struggles, and to access resources (like pain psychologists) that can provide help on an individual level.
Thank you again. I found your comment quite moving; I wish you the best in your recovery, and encourage you to continue writing about it.
Strange that nobody mentioned praying to god for help.
Has nobody any faith these days???
If you have never suffered from chronic pain you cannot understand. I believe in God. I know the punishment for suicide. But when you are in a never ending cycle of unbearable pain all you can think about is suicide. Do I really want to go that route? Of course not! But still...
Don't commit suicide just
say out loud now Jesus I believe
and I receive you in my heart I know
a good site to get help it is www.leroyjenkins.com
it will help
Infois has never suffered from chronic pain. Thanks infois
for giving christianity a bad name.
chipper.........you obviously do not suffer from chronic pain!
Jack of hearts
Thank you. I was in a car accident 6 years ago. I lost my memory, feeling in my hands and arms,and had severe back pain. I was told there was nothing wrong with me, I did get back my memory and feeling in hands and feet. But for 3yrs I was told that my back pain was all in my head. It got to the point my only relief was laying down, I could hardly walk, ride in a car, etc. finally a Dr. found what was wrong operated on my back but wasn't able to fix everything because of nerve damage, but I felt alive again hardly any pain, 3 wks later the hardware failed I had to go for emergency surgery or I could have been paralized, when they did the surgery they were able to fix everything the nerves had settled down enough by then. It took 1 1/2 yrs to be somewhat myself with physical therapy. I still had pain but could deal with it with pain management. Now 2 years later the pain is soo bad that I can hardly move when I do anything I usually pay for it for days. I tried pt again that didn't help, the pain Dr. told me I'm out of options on meds because I have an allergy to a lot of them and the ones I'm on I'm at the max dosage he's willing to give me. The Drs. don't think they can operate for any improvement, but they are looking into it. I never believed in suicide before. But now I understand why people do. When you run out of options and hope it makes life very difficult. I try to do what I can on a good day but I usually pay for it, to drive anywhere is tough, so you sit,lie or whatever for any relief you can get. Doing this you think why live, it would be easier to end the pain that you go through, and the pain you put your family through. No one knows what it's like until you actually live with the pain everyday, family sees what you are going through but they really don't know, others look at you like you only want pity, because they don't understand. If it wasn't for some family members I know I would end things today but I made a promise that I will keep instead even though it gets harder each day. Hopefully someone will find a way to lessen my pain and others. Not taking pain meds is not an option for me if I didn't the pain alone would probaly kill me, at least they take a little bit away.