Plan B

Just to clarify things Plan B is the way I have always looked at suicide and has gotten me through some touch times. It is an 'if everything else fails... then I always have Plan B'. You may think this is a dark topic but the fact is migraine related suicide is not as uncommon as people think. I certainly engage in suicidal ideation, just thinking about it. When I have a brutal migraine I sometimes wish or strongly pray for a timely heart attack, fatal stroke of coma. This is why migraine treatment is important. Why migraine awareness is important. The common deaths that occur with migraines should not have suicide at the top.

Migraine-Suicide Link May Appear As Early As Middle School
Past research has shown that rates of depression and anxiety more than double among people who suffer chronic migraines. Even more striking are the suicide rates: almost one in four women and one in seven men who experience migraine with aura, a visual or neurological disturbance which precedes headaches in 15 percent of sufferers, attempt to take their own lives.

Research published in this month's edition of Neurology shows that this correllation is present as early as puberty, the point at which many sufferers begin experiencing symptoms.

Neurologists examined 121 Taiwanese students age 12-14 who reported chronic daily headaches. These students were further assessed for psychological disorders and suicide risk.

Results showed that almost half of these students, more than 3.5 times the normal rate, suffered from one or more psychological disorders, with 21 percent qualifying formajor depressive disorder (MDD) and 19 percent for panic disorder. Twenty percent were further to be determined at high suicide risk. This association was even stronger for adolescents with migraine with aura, whose risk of suicide was estimated as six times that of normal teens.

Perhaps more like very important association than consequence, but an epidemiological study of young adults linking migraine to psychiatric disorder and suicide attempts [3] is worth considering.

This study examined 1,007 young adults aged 21 to 30 years old who were part of an HMO in Michigan. The participated in a structured interview which used the International Headache Society definitions of migraine and the National Institute of Mental Health diagnostic interview schedule to gather information on psychiatric disorders.

The results showed a lifetime prevalence of migraine of 7% in men and 16% in women. There were higher lifetime rates of psychiatric disorders in persons with migraine. For instance, major depression occurred in 9% of people without migraine, but in 22% of people with migraine without aura and in 32% of people with migraine with aura. Panic occurred 10 times more frequently, at 17%, than in people without migraine. Anxiety occurred in 21% of people without migraine and 54% of people with migraine.

Perhaps the most startling result, though, was that suicide attempts were very much higher in migraine sufferers, especially in those with aura (Figure).

When stratified according to the type of migraine and the presence and absence of major depression, the figures confirm this remarkable trend (Table 2).

Table 2: Association between migraine, depression and suicide attempts
Migraine Depression Number Suicide attempts/100
None None 786 2.2
Migraine/no aura None 51 5.9
Migraine/aura None 33 9.1
None Major 91 16.5
Migraine/no aura Major 18 22.2
Migraine/aura Major 26 38.5
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