People who suffer from chronic physical health conditions such as back pain, diabetes and heart disease may be at an increased risk of committing suicide, a new study warns. Researchers from Centre for Health Policy and Health Services Research in the US studied about 2,674 individuals who died by suicide between 2000 and 2013 along with 267,400 controls matched on year and location in a case-control study. They found that 17 physical health conditions are associated with an increased risk of suicide. These included asthma, back pain, brain injury, cancer, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, hypertension, migraine, Parkinson’s disease, psychogenic pain, renal disorder, sleep disorders, and stroke. While all of these conditions were associated with greater risk, some conditions showed a stronger association than others, researchers said. For example, people with a traumatic brain injury were nine times more likely to die by suicide, while those with sleep disorders and HIV/AIDS were at a greater than twofold risk. Along with varying rates among conditions, having multiple physical health conditions also substantially increased risk, they said. “Several conditions, such as back pain, sleep disorders, and traumatic brain injury are linked with suicide risk and are commonly diagnosed, making patients with these conditions primary targets for suicide prevention,” said Brian K Ahmedani from Centre for Health Policy and Health Services Research.
“Although suicide risk appears to be pervasive across most physical health conditions, prevention efforts appear to be particularly important for patients with a traumatic brain injury, whose odds of suicide are increased nearly ninefold, even after adjusting for potential confounders,” Ahmedani said. The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.