Chronic Pain and Suicide

Image credit: Pinterest

Image credit: Pinterest

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.

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17 thoughts on “Chronic Pain and Suicide

  1. Excellent post Joy! The picture that say, People who commit suicide do not want to die, they just want to end their pain.” is so true! This is true with emotional pain as well as physical pain. Emotional pain is just as painful as physical pain. (I have been there).

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    • I agree with you there. Just imagine the physical and emotional pain at the same time…that’s when things go wrong. However, I agree that emotional pain is usually enough to cause suicide…it’s what most people think of.

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  2. Joy, I am learning to imbed images in the zerotohero challenge and wonder if you mind if I use the image you are using on this post? I will also link my blog post to your blog. Please let me know. Thanks!

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  3. Great post, my mom got through it because of her devout faith in God. I suffer from emotional pain and have attempted several times, what worked for me was being removed from my environment for some time. Change of pace, people, surroundings, and therapy helped greatly.

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  4. Great post Joy, I think it’s hard for people to understand that need to eliminate the pain especially in the wake of hopelessness. Always good to walk a mile in someone elses shoes and gain a little insight into what they are dealing with.

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  5. Great post, I’ve taken 3 overdoses the 3rd nearly killed me and landed me in the ICU. Still struggle with suicidal thoughts now due to the pain I’m in all the time. Interesting to read the actual figures and statistics of people suffering from chronic conditions attempting suicide!

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    • I know, right? It’s sad that there are so many of us dealing with this issue. Can I ask a question? The times you OD’d, was it simply from the pain, or was it the pain plus something else, like lack of support or problems with your doctors?

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      • I couldn’t handle the pain anymore it was all too much and I didn’t want to continue living like this for who knows how long. I felt helpless and future less still feel that way a lot of the time still. I have a very supportive family but I’ve had problems with friends on and off but it was the pain that tipped me over the edge. Only recently been having problems with my doctors because I have tried everything there isn’t anything more that they can do for me. So at the minute I’m feeling pretty helpless again, also got my headaches 4 year anniversary coming up on Tuesday.

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  6. Pingback: 5 Techniques To Kick Painful Habits - cycletimes.net
  7. Hi, I don’t think I have fibromyalgia but I too am in chronic pain. I am in the process of deciding what causes it. I think the nerve pain is from the Amiodarone I take for my afib. So I stopped taking it last week! I’m seeing my cardiologist tomorrow. I saw a neurologist who poked me with needles – OUCH! – to determine if there is nerve damage. There isn’t. He sent me to a “pain specialist” who gave me 3 separate steroid injections; 2 in my lower back and one in my cervical area. They each helped for about a week! 😦 I have trouble sleeping and am thus tired through the day. I had a horrible migraine last week- I get them about once a year or less. It was bad enough to call my dr. She prescribed Narco, which I’ve taken before, to no avail! Just had to wait for the pain to pass. Tried to sleep with a towel over my eyes to block out the light. Guess that helped.
    Anyway, I started a blog a few days ago and am documenting the pain, how I feel, etc. I would love it if anyone could give me some ideas, suggestions and steer me in the right path, but from what I’ve read here, it looks almost impossible to get relief! I pray every day for God to take the pain away……. I will pray for you too.

    Here is the link to my blog if you wish to look at it:
    http://musiclady911.wordpress.com/

    Thanks!

    Colleen

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    • Thanks for sharing your story Colleen! I suppose that relief from chronic pain is in itself an oxymoron. If it’s relive able, then it’s not chronic. Nerve pain, like you mentioned, I don’t know of a cure for, but a couple of meds that ease the symptoms. Some people have had positive results from nerve stimulators, but that would be something to discuss with your pain physician once they pinpoint a reason for your pain. Migraines are just hell! I get some relief from a medicine called Maxalt, but there are others as well. The neurologist would be the one to talk to for that.

      I will be taking a look at your blog. To be honest I’ve gotten really far behind on reading others blogs, but will try to make more of an effect to do so. I think you will do well with it. My only advise to you is to be honest with your feelings. No feelings are wrong and there will always be others out there who will benefit from reading about your life with pain and how you manage it. There are many of us out there. We just have to all stand together to let people know that chronic pain is real! Good luck on your blog.

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  8. Pingback: Reblog: A Perspective of Suicide | Joynpain2

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