Chronic Pain and Suicide

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential bodily tissue damage (organs, nerves, muscles, etc.). Pain is considered chronic when it lasts more than three months.


There are two types of chronic pain: constant pain and pain that comes and goes.

What causes chronic pain?

Chronic pain can have all sorts of different causes, including:

  • Physical injuries
  • Amputation
  • Cancer
  • Generalized pain syndromes (fibromyalgia or myofascial pain)
  • Back pain and arthritis
  • Headaches
  • Nerve damage (neuropathic pain)
  • Endometriosis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

What exacerbates chronic pain?

Various factors can make chronic pain worse, including:

  • Insomnia
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Negative past experiences with pain (with regard to self or others)
  • Negative thoughts or emotions about pain

What are the effects of chronic pain?

Chronic pain can cause a variety of problems or make existing ones worse, including:

  • Sleep problems
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

Do you have chronic pain and suicidal thoughts?

People suffering from chronic pain may have suicidal thoughts. If this is the case for you, consult the following sections:

01 Taking stock of your mental health

The first step toward taking back control is identifying what’s causing your suicidal thoughts.

02 Taking care of yourself

There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and regain your balance when you’re having suicidal thoughts.

03 Talking about it with your loved ones

Asking for help from your family and friends isn’t always easy. There are different ways of going about it.

04 Finding support services

Every day, all sorts of people contact support services to get the help they need.

What to do if you're living with chronic pain

It’s possible to live well with chronic pain. If pain is affecting your psychological well-being, first call Info-Social at 811, option 2, to discuss your situation with a psychosocial worker and be referred, if necessary, to resources in your area that can provide support.

For an assessment and follow-up with a healthcare professional, consult a general practitioner (your family doctor, for example), a psychologist or contact your local CLSC.

Other resources can help people suffering from chronic pain.

Advice for people suffering from chronic pain

What I'm going through...