The question about the relationship between living with chronic pain and suicide is important to understand. We know that approximately 30 million Americans live with what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has labeled “high-impact chronic pain,” i.e., pain that is persistent, unrelenting and disabling. In addition, we know that in 2015 approximately 44,000 died by suicide, and some people with chronic pain will die by suicide. The data are scarce and the relationship between these two important public health issues is unclear. This is primarily because both chronic pain and suicide are complex, involving biological, psychological, social and environmental factors. With people living longer, there will be more people living with chronic pain and most likely more people dying by suicide in the years to come. By gaining familiarity with both suicide and chronic pain, the nature of their relationship becomes clearer.
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