Healthy Living

Sobering Fact: Fibromyalgia Is Associated with an Increased Rate of Suicide

Sobering Fact: Fibromyalgia Is Associated with an Increased Rate of Suicide

Although it is an important issue that affects many families around the world, suicide is not exactly typical dinner table chatter.  Chronic diseases may not be the main reason for suicidal tendencies to show up among patients, however, they are still a modifier that should be taken into account, just like stress and depression. 

Sadly, in most cases suicide is a subject that is often overlooked by the people surrounding patients who are experiencing the chronic, painful and invisible symptoms of fibromyalgia. It is usually regarded as a taboo subject that “may not even be in someone’s thought.”  Unfortunately, suicide is an important topic that needs to be brought to the table.

Most people know or have at least one friend, or a friend of a friend, who has committed suicide. If not the case, most know of a celebrity who took their own life. In most cases, people who contemplate their death as the ending of a painful path are people who suffer from a severe form depression. In the world of celebrities, there were have been the surprising suicides of Robin Williams, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Mindy McCready, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bordain, most recently.

Do chronic diseases, such as fibromyalgia, diabetes, lupus and other conditions have an impact on the suicide rate?

The answer is a definite YES. Conditions, such as fibromyalgia, cause the suicide rate to sky-rocket, making it ten times higher than the rate of the general population, according to the data collected.

What causes the up-tick of suicide rates for chronic disease patients?

The difficulty and helplessness of living with a chronic disease is not a secret. These types of diseases affect the patient and their family. If mental or emotional health issues are present, the ability to manage the symptoms and the future often seems impossible. It said that managing a chronic disease, especially with the relentless pain of Fibromyalgia can be at the same level and often worse than some of life's most stressful events, like losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, or going through a divorce. Because the symptoms of a condition like fibromyalgia cannot be cured at this time, imagining life feeling the same indefinitely is what sends most people into a free fall. 

In the case of fibromyalgia, knowing that it is a condition that can have such a tremendous impact on lifestyle, often makes someone who suffers daily feel they will never feel normal again.  It is important for friends and family to educate themselves completely on Fibro, symptoms, treatments and flares. Finding information about the illnesses from well-known sources and reputable is critical to help face challenges that impact the patient and the family.

A support system is absolutely essential. Always let the patient with the condition know that they can count on you.  Friends and family must learn to understand Fibromyalgia (no, it is not in their heads!) and how difficult it might be for that person to cope with the disease. It is important to keep in mind that just being with someone and listening can be the best gift for someone with fibro.  Friends and relatives need to take the patient's limitations into account and set expectations when inviting them to participate in an activity or event. 

Most of all - have hope. Researchers are currently exploring a litany of new treatment options and there is reason to be hopeful that new treatments will continue to be uncovered. 

Notice: If you suspect someone may be suicidal, please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).