Childhood Cancer Survivors at Lower Risk of Suicidal Behaviors and Death

Survivors of childhood cancer have a lower risk of committing suicide, according to the findings of a study published in the journal Cancer. However, this population was found to have the same prevalence of suicidal thoughts as the general population.

The researchers assessed suicide mortality among 7,312 survivors of childhood cancer who were at least 18 years of age, and at least five years removed their cancer diagnosis. They evaluated risk factors for acute suicidal ideation among 3,096 clinically evaluated survivors, and the prevalence of acute ideation was compared with that of 429 community controls. The researchers then assessed the prevalence of 12‐month suicidality among 1,255 survivors who could be compared with population data. Risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were used to identify risk factors correlated with acute suicidal thoughts.

According to the results of the study, childhood cancer survivors reported a similar 12‐month prevalence of ideation compared with the general population (SIR=0.68; 95% CI, 0.35 to 1.01) and a lower prevalence of suicidal behaviors (planning: SIR=0.17; 95% CI, 0.07 to 0.27]; (attempts: SIR=0.07; 95% CI, 0.00 to 0.15) and mortality (standardized mortality ratio-0.60; 95% CI, 0.34 to 0.86). Unsurprisingly, among survivors, the researchers observed that depression, anxiety, and financial stress were linked to a higher risk of suicidal ideation.

“Survivors of childhood cancer were found to be at a lower risk of suicidal behaviors and mortality yet endorsed a prevalence of ideation similar to that of the general population,” the research authors concluded.

“These results are in contrast to previous findings of suicidal ideation among survivors and support the need for further research to inform screening strategies and interventions.”