BACKGROUND: Identifying individuals at increased risk of suicide is important, particularly those who present for treatment for nonpsychiatric chief complaints who may go undetected. It has been found that pain symptoms, such as headache, are associated with suicide, although this association requires further characterization. This study examined specific components of suicidality in relation to headache subtypes.
METHODS: This study retrospectively reviewed 2,832,835 nonpsychiatric adult clinical encounters at a large county hospital, where a standardized suicide risk screening tool, the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), was universally implemented. The C-SSRS assesses specific components of suicidality: wish to be dead and suicidal ideation, method, intent, plan, and action. Multivariate logistic regressions were performed to assess the association between headache, as well as headache subtype (migraine, tension, or cluster), and each component of suicidality.
RESULTS: There were significant positive associations between presenting with a headache and 2 specific components of suicidality: wish to be dead and suicidal action. Individuals with tension headache may have a lower risk of wishing to be dead compared to those with migraine and cluster headaches.
CONCLUSIONS: The association of headaches with specific elements of suicidality demonstrates the potential yield of identification of suicide risk among individuals with nonpsychiatric presentations.