When Cancer Patients Commit Suicide

Cancer patients appear at higher risk of accidental death and suicide. The reasons for this and how suicide and accidental death relate remain unclear. A recent research study published in Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention examined risk factors for such deaths among cancer patients.  Using the SEER registries (1973–2007), an  analysis was conducted on 4,449,957 cancer patients comparing all causes of death (COD) to accidental and suicidal deaths through competing hazards, relative risk and proportional hazards models. SEER did not provide psychological assessments; the analysis was confined to their standard epidemiological and clinicopathological parameters. Results showed that 2,557,385 overall deaths yielded 16,879 (0.66%) accidents and 6,589 (0.26%) suicides. Mortality reached its highest incidence immediately after diagnosis and obeyed Pareto type II distributions. The major identifiable risk factor for suicide was male gender; for accidental death, First Nations ethnicity; and all COD, metastases. Minor factors for suicide included metastases, advanced age, and respiratory as well as head and neck tumors, whereas for accidental death they were male gender, metastases, advanced age, and brain tumors.  Differences were observed in the risk patterns of suicide and accidental death, suggesting distinct etiologies. A high incidence of suicides and accidental deaths following diagnosis (attributed by some to stress from the diagnosis of cancer) correlated here with overall mortality and indicators of physical morbidity. Cancer patients with the above identifiable risk factors warrant supportive attention.

For the abstract.

Related Stories

  • Contacting a Suicide Prevention Helpline
  • December 12 is Global Bullying Prevention Day
  • Deciding to be Adults


The information provided on the PsyWeb.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of PsyWeb.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

PsyWeb Poll

Are you currently taking or have you ever been prescribed anti-depressants?
Total votes: 3979