I recently had a doc say to me, “Fibromyalgia won’t kill you.”
I shot back, “Yeah, I know. The other half of that statement is, “But it will make you wish you were dead.’”
Let’s just say that particular doctor’s visit didn’t go well.
The reality is that there are many chronic pain conditions and illnesses that in themselves, are not deadly.
That part is true. But the damage that these conditions cause to our lives, livelihoods, bodies, relationships, and even our daily interactions can and do place individuals with chronic pain and chronic illness at a higher risk for suicidality.
A recent article published by the American Chronic Pain Association reports that a recent survey they conducted showed that 47 percent of the respondents (chronic pain patients) have contemplated suicide.
Given that an estimated 100 million Americans are living with chronic pain (according to the National Institute of Health), one would think that there would be more attention given to what is such a high risk group and such a large part of the population.
In short, since chronic pain warriors are having more difficult accessing the medication they need to control their pain, anecdotal reports suggest the suicide rate among this population may be rising, according to the Pain News Network.
The good news is that there is a growing trend (thanks Medicare!) to have patients of all backgrounds complete a Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) when they see their PCP.
The PHQ is a screening tool for depression, and it also screens for suicidality.
This can be a very useful tool, and since Medicare implemented requirements for screening tools to be utilized as a part of patient care, other insurance companies are noticing and following suit.
I think medicine and the CDC need to realize that there is an appropriate place for opiate pain medications in chronic pain management.
It’s not necessarily the whole treatment plan, but I think it can be part of a comprehensive treatment plan, and for many people, it’s a necessary part of treatment. It may be the only thing keeping someone going on with the fight against their pain.
If you or someone you know needs help,
visit our suicide prevention resources page.
Follow this journey on Removing the Mask From Invisible Illness.
See also these scholarly articles: