Cancer patients face a risk approximately 1.8 times higher of taking their own lives within two years of diagnosis compared to the general population, a survey by a research team with the Japanese health ministry has found. The team emphasised the importance of early intervention for suicide prevention in cancer patients, according to the report released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, which highlighted that the shorter the time elapsed since diagnosis, the higher the suicide risks.
The study analysed data from about 1.07 million individuals diagnosed with cancer in 2016. Over a span of two years, the research team tracked the number and timing of suicides among these patients, comparing the results to suicide rates in the general population.
It found that 660 patients had taken their own lives within two years of diagnosis, resulting in a suicide risk 1.84 times higher than that of other people, the survey showed.
The first month after diagnosis had the highest of 4.40 times the general suicide risk, followed by 2.61 times in two to three months, and 2.17 times in four to six months.
Meanwhile, no significant differences in suicide risk based on age or gender were shown.
The majority of suicides occurred at home, with 472 out of 660 cases accounting for over 70 per cent of the total, suggesting the need for strategies specifically targeting outpatient cancer patients, and their families, to address this alarming trend, according to the survey.