How does suicide relate to living with rheumatoid arthritis?
We experience chronic pain at a higher rate than the general public. We experience depression at a higher rate than the general public. When the disease is active and chips away at our quality of life, we can begin to feel hopeless or anxious about the future. Living with a chronic progressive, painful, and debilitating disease is not easy.
But it’s more than just saying that RA and depression go hand-in-hand. In a 2000 study, researchers found that depression associated with progressive physical (neurological) illness may lead to suicidal ideation and rheumatoid arthritis is the most prevalent chronic inflammatory musculoskeletal disease.
Their studies indicated that overall almost 11 percent of RA patients experience suicidal ideation. However, of those patients reporting depression, 30 percent experience suicidal ideation. See “Suicidal ideation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: Research may help identify patients at high risk.”
In another study, researchers found that comorbid depressive disorders preceded suicides in 90 percent of the female RA patients. Before their suicide, 50 percent of the female RA patients (vs 11 percent of the male RA patients) had experienced at least one suicide attempt and the method of suicide was violent in 90 percent of the RA females. See “Suicides in persons suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.”
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Rheumatoid Arthritis, Depression, and Suicide Prevention