The prevalence and correlates of chronic pain and suicidality in a nationally representative sample

Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2015 Sep;49(9):803-11. doi: 10.1177/0004867415569795. Epub 2015 Feb 19.


Background: Research suggests that people suffering from chronic pain have elevated rates of suicidality. With an ageing population, more research is essential to gain a better understanding of this association.

Aims: To document the prevalence and correlates of chronic pain and suicide, and estimate the contribution of chronic pain to suicidality.

Method: Data from the 2007 Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, a nationally representative household survey on 8841 people, aged 16-85 years, was analysed.

Results: The odds of lifetime and past 12-month suicidality were two to three times greater in people with chronic pain. Sixty-five percent of people who attempted suicide in the past 12 months had a history of chronic pain. Chronic pain was independently associated with lifetime suicidality after controlling for demographic, mental health and substance use disorders.

Conclusions: Health care professionals need to be aware of the risk of suicidality in patients with chronic pain, even in the absence of mental health problems.

Keywords: Chronic non-cancer pain; prevalence; suicide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult