Suicide in Chronic Pain Patients: Risk Factors and Clinical Considerations

  • Jennifer K. Lehmann
  • Xavier F. JimenezEmail author


Chronic pain patients are at increased risk of suicide. Patients with chronic pain are at increased suicide risk due to neurobiological vulnerabilities, demographic risk factors, psychiatric comorbidities, personality traits, and the misuse of opioid medications. Risk for suicide is much more likely when vulnerable individuals enter time periods of great stress, loss, or transition. Chronic pain patients are also more likely to enter into vulnerable periods (such as pain exacerbations, advanced age, or loss), which may induce a suicidal crisis. Warning signs of an imminent suicidal crisis include increased isolation, feelings of hopelessness, and decreases in problem-solving abilities or cognitive control. An actuarial approach to suicide risk in chronic pain patients is crucial to ensure safe and effective management. Psychotherapeutic interventions can aid suicidal pain patients in successfully managing suicidal crises through building distress tolerance skills, challenging catastrophic thoughts, and instilling hope in the future.


Chronic pain Suicide Vulnerable populations Neurobiology Vulnerable time periods 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Case Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Section, Center for Neurological Restoration, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Neurological InstituteCleveland ClinicClevelandUSA

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