Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Depression (PDQ®): Supportive care - Patient Information [NCI] - Suicide Risk in Patients with Cancer

It's common for cancer patients to feel hopeless at times.

Cancer patients sometimes feel hopeless. Although few cancer patients are reported to die by suicide, talk with your doctor if you feel hopeless or have thoughts of suicide. There are ways your doctor can help you. Getting treatment for major depression has been shown to lower the risk of suicide in cancer patients.

Recommended Related to Cancer

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Important It is possible that the main title of the report Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

Read the Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia article > >

Risk factors for suicide may be related to the cancer or other conditions.

General risk factors for suicide include the following:

  • A history of mental problems, especially those that cause you to act without thinking.
  • A family history of suicide.
  • A history of suicide attempts.
  • Depression or feeling hopeless.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Recent death of a friend or spouse.
  • Few friends or little family support.

Risk factors that are related to cancer include the following:

  • A diagnosis of oral, throat, or lung cancer.
  • Advanced stage cancer and poor prognosis.
  • Confusion or being unable to think clearly.
  • Pain that is not relieved with treatment.
  • Physical changes such as the following:
    • Being unable to walk and move around on your own.
    • Loss of bowel and bladder control.
    • Loss of a limb (amputation).
    • Loss of eyesight or hearing.
    • Paralysis.
    • Being unable to eat or swallow.
    • Extreme tiredness.

An assessment is done to find the reasons for hopeless feelings or thoughts of suicide.

Talking about thoughts of suicide with your doctor gives you a chance to describe your feelings and fears, and may help you feel more in control. Your doctor will try to find out what is causing your hopeless feelings, such as:

  • Symptoms that are not well controlled.
  • Fear of having a painful death.
  • Fear of being alone during your cancer experience.

You can find out what may be done to help relieve your emotional and physical pain.

Controlling symptoms caused by cancer and cancer treatment is an important goal in preventing suicide.

Having constant discomfort or pain can cause you to feel desperate. Keeping pain and other symptoms under control will help to:

  • Relieve distress.
  • Make you feel more comfortable.
  • Prevent thoughts of suicide.
    1|2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    A common one in both men and women.
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
     
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Real Cancer Perspectives
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article