A study by Mark A. Ilgen, Ph.D, of the Veterans Affairs Serious Mental Illness Treatment Resource and Evaluation Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan and colleagues examined the associations between clinical diagnosis of noncancer pain conditions and suicide. (Online First)
Data for this retrospective analysis were extracted from the National Death Index and treatment records from the Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. Researchers identified 4,863,036 individuals who received services in fiscal year 2005 and were alive at the start of fiscal year 2006. The data were examined for associations between baseline clinical diagnoses of pain-related conditions (arthritis, back pain, migraine, neuropathy, headache or tension headache, fibromyalgia, and psychogenic pain (which results from psychological factors) and subsequent suicide death (assessed in fiscal years 2006-2008).
Elevated suicide risks were observed for each pain condition except arthritis and neuropathy. When analyses controlled for accompanying psychiatric conditions, the associations between pain conditions and suicide death were reduced; however, significant associations remained for back pain, migraine, and psychogenic pain, the study finds.
"There is a need for increased awareness of suicide risk in individuals with certain noncancer pain diagnoses, in particular back pain, migraine, and psychogenic pain,” the study concludes.
(JAMA Psychiatry. Published online May 22, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.908.