Strupp et al. Risk Factors for Suicidal Ideation in Patients Feeling Severely Affected by Multiple Sclerosis. J Palliat Med. 2016 Apr 5.
BACKGROUND: Being severely affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) brings substantial physical and psychological challenges. Contrary to common thinking that MS is not lethal, there is a higher mortality risk in patients also reflected in alarming rates of assisted suicide, and – where possible – euthanasia.
OBJECTIVE: Analyzing independent variables promoting suicidal ideation in severely affected MS patients.
DESIGN: A self-report questionnaire with 25 needs categories including one self-assessment item “prone to suicidal ideation” was applied.
SETTING/SUBJECTS: Included were patients reporting feeling subjectively severely affected by MS. Of 867 patients addressed, 573 (66.1%) completed the questionnaires.
MEASUREMENTS: 32 items being potential risk factors for suicidal ideation were tested for statistical significance using a multivariate logistic regression model with stepwise, backward elimination procedure.
RESULTS: 22.1% of 573 patients (median age 51, range 20-83) had suicidal ideation. 48.4% suffered from secondary progressive, 24.7% from relapsing-remitting and 21.9% from primary progressive MS. A set of six statistically significant criteria for suicidal ideation were found. Three items were risk factors for suicidal ideation: the extent to which MS affects leisure time (p < 0.001), depression (p < 0.000), and feeling socially excluded (p < 0.002). Three items reduced the odds of suicidal ideation: having a purpose in life (p < 0.000), being productive (p < 0.000), and having comfort in faith and spiritual beliefs (p < 0.024).
CONCLUSION: This study identified potentially modifiable factors that may help preventing suicide in people with MS. Integrating palliative care (PC) with its multidisciplinary approach could be beneficial to reduce patient’s burden.