The risk of suicide mortality in chronic pain patients

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2014;18(8):436. doi: 10.1007/s11916-014-0436-1.


Chronic pain has long been considered an important risk factor for suicidal behavior. Less well understood are the factors associated with the increased risk for suicide death within chronic pain populations. The purpose of this review is to examine recent research with regard to rates of and risk factors for suicide mortality in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain. We conclude that patients with a number of chronic pain states are at increased risk for suicide death, and that this risk appears to be due, at least in part, to other well-known correlates of pain such as depression and substance use disorders. However, in all likelihood, there are aspects of chronic pain itself that add uniquely to an individual's suicide risk profile. Lastly, we address a theoretical perspective and offer recommendations for clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Chronic Pain / mortality
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / mortality
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / mortality
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / psychology*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Psychological Theory
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution
  • Substance-Related Disorders / mortality
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Suicide / prevention & control
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data