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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Suicide and Chronic Illness

I am involved with a lot of gastroparesis groups on Facebook. A few weeks ago, we lost one of our members to suicide. I wanted to address this, so that her death had some meaning, and to reach out to anyone else who is feeling lost and lonely. Please know that you aren't alone. Many people with chronic illnesses have a higher chance of suicide, according to medical studies.

***THESE HELPLINES ARE NOT EXCLUSIVELY TO GPERs, SO IF YOU NEED THEM FOR ANOTHER FRIEND, PLEASE USE THEM! PRINT THEM AND PUT THEM ON YOUR FRIDGE!***





According to The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2011/aug/23/suicide-chronic-illness-study,



"At least one person takes their life every day while suffering from a chronic or terminal illness, and the government is neglecting this hidden trend, the think tank Demos has said.

In a study, The Truth About Suicide, researchers found at least 10% of suicides in Britain are linked to terminal or chronic illness, accounting for more than 400 deaths a year. The think tank, which said the study marked the first attempt to estimate the scale of suicides related to illness, wanted to challenge the notion that taking one's own life is largely about a patient's mental health rather than physical state. Researchers also found some people were killing themselves at a "younger age in order to avoid severe symptoms and greater pain later in life".

The figures come from a mixture of sources, including data from freedom of information requests to 147 primary care trusts, which are supposed to conduct annual suicide audits.

Researchers also conducted a series of interviews with serving and recently retired coroners. Demos also had access to suicide inquest files in Norwich from May 2006 to December 2010 to identify the proportion of suicides that involved people with terminal or chronic health conditions. It said that of the 4,390 individual suicide cases last year, 10% concerned people "experiencing some form of serious physical illness as an influencing factor".

The researchers said patients with such conditions "should be considered a high- risk group for suicide within national policy, and much greater attention should be given to providing better medical, practical and psychological support". The issue has become a fixture in public debate as growing numbers of UK citizens with chronic or terminal conditions have traveled to the assisted-death organization Dignitas in Switzerland to be helped to end their lives. Last year, a coroner recorded a verdict of suicide over the death of Michelle Broad, wife of the former England cricketer and international referee Chris Broad, who had motor neurone disease.

Louise Bazalgette, author of the report, said the "lack of attention paid to people with terminal or chronic illness committing suicide is a gross dereliction of duty on the part of the government and health services. The difficulty we experienced in tracking down evidence of the relationship between physical illness and suicide suggests a willful avoidance of what is an extremely important public health issue.

"The results are devastating: at least 400 people with terminal or chronic illness commit suicide every year and this cannot continue to be ignored."

She said a government consultation on suicide prevention, issued last month, focused on the same "at risk" groups identified by Labor in 2002: those using mental health services, prisoners and people with a history of self-harm.

"Eighty prisoners committed suicide last year. That is only a fifth of suicides of patients with chronic or terminal conditions. There's an urgent need for support," she said.

Experts agreed hospital doctors and GPs could do more to identify patients at risk from suicide but warned that the issue was "more complicated".

Linda Gask, professor of primary care psychiatry at the University of Manchester, said it was wrong to think "being depressed enough to commit suicide is either because of your mental health or your physical health: one is linked to another. We know that 30% of diabetes patients are depressed. Not all of them commit suicide.

"On the other hand, those traveling to Dignitas would say they are not depressed. They argue they are making a rational decision because they do not want to live like this."

Charities were also wary of clearly ascribing the cause of a suicide to either physical or mental health problems.

Jo Ferns, director of research for the Samaritans, said the issue was one of "risk" and what factors increased the chance of suicide.

"People with chronic conditions could be not suicidal but perhaps apathetic about living or dying. They are not saying they will kill themselves but taking decisions that do increase the risks. I think that's what we have to watch for."

A Department of Health spokesman said its mental health strategy recognized "that physical illness increases the risk of mental health problems and vice versa. We are consulting with bereaved families and experts in general practice, local government, and other organizations on a new strategy to prevent suicides.

"The consultation calls upon healthcare professionals to be alert to mental health issues, especially depression, in the patients that they see for known physical health problems, and to take the right steps to help people with long-term conditions have a better quality of life.""





According to WebMD (http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/chronic-illnesses-depression
,

"Dealing With Chronic Illnesses and Depression:

For millions of people, chronic illnesses and depression are facts of life. A chronic illness is a condition that lasts for a very long time and usually cannot be cured completely, although some illnesses can be controlled or managed through lifestyle (diet and exercise) and certain medications. Examples of chronic illnesses include diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, HIV/AIDS, lupus, and multiple sclerosis (I'm going to go ahead and say GP since I believe it's a chronic illness and just as debilitating, even though it's not in the article).

Many people with these illnesses become depressed. In fact, depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illness. It's estimated that up to one-third of people with a serious medical condition have symptoms of depression.

It's not hard to see the cause and effect relationship between chronic illness and depression. Serious illness can cause tremendous life changes and limit your mobility and independence. A chronic illness can make it impossible to do the things you enjoy, and it can eat away at your self-confidence and a sense of hope in the future. No surprise, then, that people with chronic illness often feel despair and sadness. In some cases, the physical effects of the condition itself or the side effects of medication lead to depression, too.

What Chronic Conditions Trigger Depression?

Although any illness can trigger depressed feelings, the risk of chronic illness and depression gets higher with the severity of the illness and the level of life disruption it causes. The risk of depression is generally 10-25% for women and 5-12% for men. However, people with a chronic illness face a much higher risk -- between 25-33%. Risk is especially high in someone who has a history of depression.
Continue reading below...




Depression caused by chronic disease often makes the condition worse, especially if the illness causes pain and fatigue or it limits a person's ability to interact with others. Depression can intensify pain, as well as fatigue and sluggishness. The combination of chronic illness and depression might lead you to isolate yourself, which is likely to make the depression even worse.

Research on chronic illnesses and depression indicates that depression rates are high among patients with chronic conditions:

Heart attack: 40%-65% experience depression
Coronary artery disease (without heart attack): 18%-20% experience depression
Parkinson's disease: 40% experience depression
Multiple sclerosis: 40% experience depression
Stroke: 10%-27% experience depression
Cancer: 25% experience depression
Diabetes: 25% experience depression
Chronic pain syndrome: 30%-54% experience depression

Symptoms of Depression

People with a chronic illness as well as their family members often overlook the symptoms of depression. They assume that feeling sad is normal for someone struggling with disease. Symptoms of depression are also often masked by other medical problems. The symptoms get treated, but not the underlying depression. When you have both a chronic illness and depression, you need to treat both at the same time.

Treatment Options

Depression is treated much the same way for someone who is chronically ill as someone who isn't. Early diagnosis and treatment can ease distress along with the risk of complications and suicide. Many times, depression treatment can improve your overall medical condition, a better quality of life, and a greater likelihood of sticking to a long-term treatment plan.

When depressive symptoms are related to the physical illness or the side effects of medication, your doctor may need to adjust or change your treatment. When the depression is a separate problem, it can be treated on its own. More than 80% of people with depression can be treated successfully with medicine, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Antidepressant drugs usually take effect within a matter of weeks. You should work closely with your doctor or psychiatrist to find the most effective medication.


My friend Melissa wrote this and I wanted to share it because it's true.



Tips for Living With a Chronic Illness

Depression, disability, and chronic illness form a vicious cycle. Chronic medical conditions can bring on bouts of depression, which, in turn get in the way of successful treatment of the disease.

Living with a chronic illness is a challenge, and it's normal to feel grief and sadness as you come to grips with your condition and its implications. But if these feelings don't go away, or you are having trouble sleeping or eating, or you've lost interest in the activities you normally enjoy, seek help.

To avoid depression:

Try not to isolate yourself. Reach out to family and friends. If you don't have a solid support system, take steps to build one. Ask your doctor or therapist about support groups and other community resources.

Learn as much as you can about your condition. Knowledge is power when it comes to getting the best treatment available and keeping your sense of independence and control.

Make sure that you have medical support from experts you trust and can talk to openly about your ongoing questions and concerns.

If you suspect that your medication is bringing you down, talk to your doctor about other possible treatments.

Talk with your doctor about pain management.

As much as is possible, keep doing the things you like to do. You'll stay connected as well as boost your self-confidence and sense of community.

If you think you're depressed, don't wait to get help. Find a therapist or counselor you trust."






If you ARE feeling suicidal, please reach out to someone for help - a friend, a family member, priest, counselor, or click on the links below for help. We don't want to lose you, you're too valuable and your life is not meaningless.







Suicide Prevention:

If you are feeling suicidal and you want help then I have some websites for you to look into:

The Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/gethelp/online.aspx

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/suicide-prevention/suicide-prevention-helping-someone-who-
is-suicidal.htm


http://www.afsp.org/

http://suicide.org/

http://dbhdd.georgia.gov/suicide-prevention

Here is a link to determine whether someone is really suicidal or not:

http://www.onhealth.com/suicide/article.htm