Does cancer diagnosis cause suicide? How can risk perception and reduction be done?

  • Orkun Aydın
  • Artuner Deveci
  • Ayşen Esen-Danacı

Bull Urooncol 2012;11(4):311-315

Cancer is a disease that requires a long-term treatment, therefore, its psychological impact on patients is important for clinical oncology. Despite improvements in medicine over the years, cancer continues to be an illness that inspires panic and anxiety among people, involves ambiguity, and evokes a death fraught with pain and suffering. Various studies show increased risk of suicide in people diagnosed with cancer. The prevalence of psychiatric disorders among inpatient and outpatient cancer patients is approximately 50%. Many studies have shown that unrelieved pain, major depression, loss of control, emotional distress, and loss of physical functioning are the leading factors that may cause suicidal thoughts in cancer patients. The physician should be alert to such patient characteristics, make a good risk assessment, and be able to take appropriate action especially on patients at a high risk for suicide. The patient who attempted suicide must be seen by a psychiatrist as soon as the medical intervention is completed. Because, this period is often referred to as the period when people are in need for help like they have never been before. Psychotherapeutic modalities should not be time consuming; they should take into account the general condition of the patients, and involve their family members and the treatment team as necessary. It is both the psychiatrists' and the patient's primary physician's responsibility to find out and resolve the psychiatric conditions associated with the suicide. Solution-focused interventions that comply with this approach will contribute greatly to improving the quality of life of patients.

Keywords: cancer, suicide, psychological response