Back, psychogenic pain increased veteran suicide risk

Individuals with noncancer pain diagnoses, such as back pain, migraine and psychogenic pain, have an increased risk of suicide, according to recent study results.

Researchers extracted data from the National Death Index and treatment records from the Department of Veterans Healthcare System on individuals receiving services from the Department of Veterans Healthcare System in fiscal year 2005 who remained alive at the start of fiscal year 2006. Analyses examined the association between baseline clinical diagnoses of pain-related conditions and subsequent suicide. Pain-related conditions included arthritis, back pain, migraine, neuropathy, headache or tension headache, fibromyalgia and psychogenic pain.

According to study results, elevated suicide risks were observed for each pain condition except arthritis and neuropathy after controlling for demographic and contextual factors. When analyses controlled for concomitant psychiatric conditions, the associations between pain conditions and suicide death were reduced. However, researchers found significant associations remaining for back pain, migraine and psychogenic pain.

“There is a need for increased awareness of suicide risk in individuals with certain noncancer pain diagnoses, in particular back pain, migraine and psychogenic pain,” the researchers concluded.

For more information:

Ilgen MA. JAMA Psychiatry. 2013;doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.908.

Disclosure: The researchers have no relevant financial disclosures.

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