Negotiating the Maze: Risk Factors for Suicidal Behavior in Chronic Pain Patients

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Current Pain and Headache Reports, 2014, 18 (9)
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Chronic pain disorders can exert major negative effects on virtually every aspect of an individual’s life. It is not surprising then that many chronic pain sufferers find themselves at a point of emotional fragility where they experience thoughts of ending their life. Suicidal behavior encompasses a spectrum of experience, from “life weariness” or passive suicidal ideation, to more active suicidal intent and suicide completion. A range of risk factors for suicidal behavior in the general population have been identified, and these apply equally to the chronic pain population: a family history of mental illness, past history of suicide attempts, and the presence of comorbid depression. With regard specifically to chronic pain patients, elevated suicide risk is also associated with severe or recurrent headache, ambiguous diagnoses (psychogenic pain, abdominal pain), and medicolegal issues related to the pain. A number of suggestions for clinicians managing chronic pain patients with regards to managing suicide risk are given.
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