A recent report from Wayne Kendal, M.D., of the Ottawa Hospital Regional Cancer Center, claimed that U.S. cancer patients are “more than twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population.” This conclusion was reached after an analysis of 1.3 million cancer patients cases which were diagnosed between 1973 to 2001. The rate of male suicides among this group was 5 times greater than that of females. On average, out of every 1000 male cancer patients studied in the group 19 ended their lives. For women, out of every 1000 female cancer patients 4 were found to take their lives. The following is an excerpt of the article:
Cancer patients in the U.S. are more than twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population, with the rate for men nearly five times that for women. The composite picture for suicide risk was that of a white man, with a new diagnosis of either head-and-neck cancer or myeloma, widowed, with widely disseminated and perhaps high-grade disease, limited treatment options, or maybe a history of other cancers.
I was not aware that the rate of suicides among U.S. cancer patients is so high in comparison to the general population. I believe that practical application of this information for a Pastor or Chaplain is in having a heightened sensitivity when dealing with cancer patients.