Clinical Edge

Summaries of Must-Read Clinical Literature, Guidelines, and FDA Actions

Chronic Pain Among Suicide Decedents

Ann Intern Med; ePub 2018 Sep 11; Petrosky, et al

Chronic pain may be an important contributor to suicide, while access to quality, comprehensive pain care and adherence to clinical guidelines might improve pain management and patient safety. This according to findings from 18 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). Suicide decedents with and without chronic pain who died during January 1, 2003, to December 31, 2014 were included. Demographic characteristics, mechanism of death, toxicology results, participating circumstances, and suicide planning and intent were measured. Researchers found:

  • Among 123,181 suicide decedents included in the study, 10,789 (8.8%) had evidence of chronic pain, with the percentage increasing from 7.4% in 2003 to 10.2% in 2014.
  • 53.6% of suicide decedents with chronic pain died of firearm-related injuries and 16.2% by opioid overdose.


Petrosky E, Harpaz R, Fowler KA, et al. Chronic pain among suicide decedents, 2003 to 2014: Findings from the National Violent Death Reporting System. [Published online ahead of print September 11, 2018]. Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/M18-0830.

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