Individuals with cancer face a higher risk of suicide than people in the general population, but little is known about the characteristics of patients with cancer who have died by suicide. A new study published in Psycho-Oncology compared the characteristics of suicide cases with and without cancer.
Among 14,446 suicide cases between 2003 and 2017 in Hong Kong, 10% had a history of cancer. Compared with non-cancer cases, patients with cancer were generally older and less likely to live alone; more likely to use violent methods; less likely to have histories of physical and psychiatric problems; and more likely to communicate about their suicidal intent before death.
“Patients with cancer suffer from more than physical pain–we should also care about their mental and social well-being. It is crucial to advocate for suicide prevention to their caregivers and healthcare professionals during the treatment process,” said senior author Paul S.F. Yip, PhD, of The University of Hong Kong.