With chronic pain comes a chronic condition: suicide. when you think about it, it makes sense. When someone hurts day and night for any significant amount of time, feelings of helplessness (especially in regards to the medical system, but also in inability to perform activities one used to do) and worthlessness (loss of income due to inability to work) can add to the burden of living with unrelenting pain.
According to rsds.com:
— Over 30% of the US population is affected by chronic pain
— Prolonged pain conditions are associated with significant interference in physical, social, vocational/educational, and sexual functioning
— Excluding arthritis, people with chronic pain are four times more likely to attempt suicide than other adults (National Pain Foundation)
And according to an article in the Orlando Sentinel:
— Large-scale studies show that at least 10 percent of suicides — and possibly as many as 70 percent — are linked to chronic illness or unrelenting pain.
With numbers like these, it’s easy to see just how big of a problem chronic pain can be in the lives of its sufferers.
I personally have considered suicide a time or two. I have been lucky in that I snap out of it quickly and get back into warrior mode. I however, am lucky in that I have doctors who understand my condition and are willing to prescribe medications that take the edge off of my pain, allowing me to think more clearly and deal with life as it comes. I also have a psychologist and a psychiatrist who understand my pain and work with me on stressors so that I can better deal with the things that life throws at me, including the pain itself.
Others aren’t so lucky. Without the appropriate pain medications and psychological/psychiatric help, the physical and emotional pain can become completely unbearable. Without belief and support from friends and family, the situation becomes worse for the sufferer. To be honest, the times that I have considered suicide, it was because of a lack of a support system.
I am writing this post in honor of a very good friend of mine who is dealing with this problem even as I type this post. I want her to remember that she has friends that care about her and who love her. We understand what she is going through. I pray that she is able to get some kind of relief soon not only from her pain, but from the other struggles that she is facing at this time. I ask that if you’re reading this to please say a prayer for my friend. If you don’t pray, then send as many good thoughts and feelings to her as you can.
Have you ever contemplated suicide because of your chronic pain?
Do you know someone who has been in this situation before? What helped them through it?
Do you believe and support your chronic pain friends or loved ones the way you should? If not, please understand that things like being called lazy or unproductive can reach the very soul of the patient and can cause these types of thoughts.
Are you, as a doctor, doing everything you can for your chronic pain patients, or do you get frustrated and try to pass them off to another specialist? Please understand that we, as patients, place our trust in you to believe us and to help us. We need you more than you can imagine. If you are stuck and don’t know where to go in their treatment, tell them so. Find someone who can help, but make sure that the patient knows that whatever happens with the referral, you are still there for them.
Life is hard for everyone. Try to imagine your everyday stressors and add to that the worst pain you can imagine. Now think how your life would be with that kind of pain 24/7, people who don’t believe that you are in pain, financial hardship because you are unable to work, and on top of all that is your everyday stressors. That is what we, as chronic pain patients deal with daily. Be kind. Understand. And most importantly, look out for warning signs of suicidal thoughts. These are your loved ones, your neighbors, your friends. Be there for them.