Here are excerpts from 4 more articles showing that many suicides classified as “overdose” deaths are likely due to chronic pain.
The first article I include below started the “official awareness” that many opioid-overdose deaths may have been due to unbearable pain. Patients are committing suicide when their pain medications are taken away by the over-zealous promotion of anti-opioid policies.
With a powerful and well-known author like the head of NIDA, Dr. Nora Volkow, we can hope that other professionals will take note. Continue reading
It is becoming more and more obvious and even studies and publicly recognized that the forced reduction of opioid doses for pain patients are causing suicides.
Here are several recent posts on this topic:
PubMed studies from the NIH
Treat pain to prevent suicides
People Can Die From Giving Up the Fight – 25-Sep-2018 – Source Newsroom: University of Portsmouth
We had a neighbor downstairs, a single woman who retired and then, within a few years, lost all interest in life. She never left her townhouse anymore, but she always acted almost normally when social workers visited. On the rare occasions someone would see her it was clear that she was losing a lot of weight.
She had no relatives nearby and it turned out that she had no friends either. She refused to see a doctor or be hospitalized, so there was nothing anyone could do (which I think is exactly what she wanted). She was eventually found dead, lying neatly and perfectly dressed on her bed.
People can die simply because they’ve given up, life has beaten them and they feel defeat is inescapable, according to new research. Continue reading
Commentary: We must understand the causes of anxiety and suicide – By Perry G. Fine – September 16, 2018
Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asserts that there is no single cause that can be attributed to this national trend, we know that serious, life-impacting anxiety, depression and chronic pain are at an all-time high and strongly correlated with suicide attempts.
The 25 percent increase in the suicide rate has mirrored similar upswings in other harmful behaviors and chronic illnesses.
These include parallel increases in diabetes and obesity-related mortality, gun violence deaths and drug overdose fatalities. Continue reading
Suicide Notes Suggest ‘Chilling’ Role of Chronic Pain – Perry Wilson, MD, MSCE – Sept 2018
Every time I talk about the opioid epidemic and how physicians should be careful prescribing opioids for chronic pain, I get a significant backlash from patients with chronic pain and their providers, who feel that opioids are the only thing keeping patients from suicide.
This concern is actually supported by the researcher’s analysis of 95 suicide notes from individuals with chronic pain;
64 of those notes stated that pain played a role in their decision to die by suicide—chilling and heartbreaking data. Continue reading
Suicide Accounts for Higher Percentage Of Opioid Deaths Than Previously Believed – Pain Medicine News – by David Holzman – Sept 2018
In 2016, 42,000 Americans died of an opioid overdose, according to the CDC. In the past, just a tiny fraction of those deaths would have been counted as suicides.
But now, Maria A. Oquendo, MD, PhD, the chair of the Psychiatry Department in the Perelman School of Medicine.and Nora D. Volkow, MD, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse,estimated that 20% to 30% of these deaths (8,400-12,600) were likely by suicide. Dr. Oquendo told Pain Medicine News that the rate could be as high as 40% (16,800).
Pain Medicine News editorial advisory board member Lynn R. Webster, MD, believes death by suicide may be even more prevalent among opioid overdoses than Drs. Oquendo and Volkow suggest. Continue reading
Chronic Pain Among Suicide Decedents, 2003 to 2014 | Annals of Internal Medicine | American College of Physicians – Sept 2018
The CDC finally looks at suicide and chronic pain:
“increases in opioid availability are not associated with greater suicide risk from opioid overdose among patients with chronic pain.”
During 2003 to 2014, the NVDRS identified 123,181 suicide decedents aged 10 years or older, 10,789 (8.8%) of whom had evidence of chronic pain. The percentage of decedents with chronic pain increased from 7.4% in 2003 to 10.2% in 2014, but the percentage who died by opioid overdose remained low overall (<2.0%). Continue reading
Coincidentally, the month of September is both “Pain Awareness Month” and “Suicide Prevention Month”.
Judging from all the articles I’ve found discussing the link between pain and suicide, the juxtaposition of these two awareness campaigns is a fortuitous coincidence, a chance to raise awareness of the potentially deadly consequences of poor pain control.
Perhaps it can start some necessary conversations about how the withdrawal of opioid pain management could exacerbate suicidal impulses. Continue reading
Suicide By Opioid: New Research Suggests Overdoses Should Be Classified As Self-Harm | Kaiser Health News – By Rachel Bluth – Aug 2018
There has been a steady stream of headlines declaring that life expectancy in the United States is decreasing. And the often-cited reason is the climbing number of opioid-related deaths.
Those two facts piqued the interest of a group of researchers who sought to reframe the way these trends can be viewed.
“We have a problem that is otherwise being underestimated,” said Ian Rockett, an injury epidemiologist and professor emeritus at West Virginia University.
Suicide rates have been steadily climbing, Rockett said, but their numbers are likely even higher. Continue reading
Ultra-Low-Dose Opioid May Quash Severe Suicidal Ideation – Nancy A. Melville – February 24, 2016
I found this article from last year that shows an unexpected beneficial effect of opioids on mental health. These are truly wonder drugs.
The short-term use of ultra-low-dose buprenorphine (multiple brands) may reduce suicidal ideation in severely depressed patients, new research shows.
“If our results are corroborated by further studies, the short-term use of ultra-low-dose sublingual buprenorphine may emerge as an acute, symptomatic, safe treatment for suicidal ideation,” lead author Yoram Yovell, MD, PhD, of the Institute for the Study of Affective Neuroscience, University of Haifa, in Israel. Continue reading