Study: One in 12 Canadians with migraines has attempted suicide

April 4 (UPI) — Researchers have unveiled a link between migraines, violence and suicide attempts, a new study says.

Canadian adults with migraines who saw their parents engaged in domestic violence had a 67 percent higher risk of attempting suicide when they got older, according to findings published in the Archives of Suicide Research. The study also showed that adults with migraines who were sexually abused as children had three times the risk of attempting suicide.

Overall, however, a high number of Canadians who have migraines have also attempted suicide — even without other risk factors.

“Even after taking into account most of the known risk factors for suicide attempts, those with migraines had 77 percent higher odds of having attempted suicide in comparison to those without migraines. Almost one-third — 30 percent — of all Canadians who have attempted suicide are migraineurs,” Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, a researcher at the University of Toronto and study lead author, said in a news release.

Adults who experienced physical abuse as a child also had double the risk for suicide versus those who did not.

The researchers analyzed data on nearly 22,000 Canadians, 2,223 of whom reported having a migraine diagnosis, from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health.

In all, 7.3 percent of men and 9.3 percent of women in the group had attempted suicide.

“When we examined only the respondents with migraine, we found that a history of exposure to parental domestic violence, childhood sexual and physical abuse played a huge role, explaining 23 percent of the variability in suicide attempts,” said Gwyneth A. Hodgins, a researcher at the University of Toronto and a study co-author. “To put this number in context, most of the other known risk factors for suicide attempts including gender, race, age, education, household income, level of chronic pain, and history of substance dependence, anxiety disorder and depression cumulatively only explained 26 percent of the variability in suicide attempts.”

The Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council reports that 4,000 Canadians die each year from suicide.

“Clearly those with migraine are an extremely vulnerable population. Knowledge of the added risk of suicide attempts associated with migraineurs with a high level of chronic pain, lower income and a history of adverse childhood experiences, substance dependence, anxiety disorders and depression will hopefully help clinicians improve targeting and outreach to this population,” Fuller-Thomson said.

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