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Suicide and chronic medical conditions are co-occurring disorders, especially with chronic medical illnesses. There are a number of issues that contribute to suicidal behavior, including unremitting pain, inability to take decisions, loss of work, and a number of emotional difficulties. Suicide and chronic medical conditions are more likely to occur with increased serious, life threatening and terminal medical conditions, such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.

Suicide in Cancer Patients

It has been noticed that suicide is prevalent at an elevated rate among people suffering from life threatening diseases, including cancer. Suicide risk in cancer patients is highest during the first few months following the initial diagnosis, but the risk continues to persist at higher rate in the initial 5 years following the diagnosis. Patients diagnosed with terminal illnesses are often concerned about how they will be viewed by other people. Moreover, fear of death, uncertainty about the outcomes of the cancer treatment and the side effects of treatment, contribute to the psychological distress of the patients and increase the risk of suicide and chronic medical conditions related to cancer. For example, exhaustion, fatigue, depression and anxiety are common among patient undergoing cancer treatment. In fact about 63 to 85 percent of the cancer patients who committed suicide were also experiencing severe depression and anxiety. While it is not clear if the depression or anxiety came before or after the cancer, and hence there is no way to know the cause, these factors play a role in the relationship between suicide and chronic medical conditions in people suffering from cancer.

Suicide in HIV/AIDS Patients 

There are a number of studies  that show that there is a severe and dangerous tendency of suicidal attempts in the people suffering from HIV.  Up to 22 – 50% of people living with HIV report that they have attempted suicide.  People having AIDS are 44% more likely to commit suicide than the people who are not inflicted with the disease. Though many of the studies show that people with HIV/AIDS have higher risk of suicide than the people suffering from other fatal diseases or no diseases at all, no research can conclude that HIV is the chief cause of suicide attempts in the people having the respective disease. Provided that HIV cannot be labeled as the major factor of suicide, some of the studies have demonstrated that suicide among the people having HIV is more common in those patients who a previous history of psychiatric problems or other environmental, social or interpersonal stress. There are some other factors that are more closely related to medical conditions and suicide than HIV, including depression and anxiety, drugs and substance abuse and various personality problems. Suicide and chronic medical conditions is the product of manifold factors and no single medical illness in isolation is associated with a suicidal outcome.

Suicide and chronic medical conditions are highly dependent on a number of additional factors, including the presence of depression and anxiety. Because our treatment for depression and anxiety programs rely on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders associated with chronic medical illnesses.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting. It is also important to keep in mind that women and men often experience depression differently and therefore the presence of depression may also appear differently based on gender. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety in the presence of a chronic medical condition, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  People who have completed our program have provide very high consumer satisfaction scores and reviewsCall us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.