When you hear about somebody being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma – or any particularly aggressive form of cancer – you envision a lot of inevitable outcomes, but few people picture the victim opting out and taking their own lives. Yet that is a choice that many people select, and according to a recently published study out of the United Kingdom, mesothelioma patients choose suicide at a higher rate than many other types of cancer.
Malignant mesothelioma is devastating. The rare and deadly form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos tends to appear from seemingly out of nowhere, decades after exposure to the asbestos that caused it. Once its symptoms begin to appear, things progress very quickly, and most patients die in less than two years after suffering pain and a rapid decline in their quality of life. So it’s no wonder that the study conducted by Public Health England and University College London found that patients told that they have the disease are among the cancer patients who are most likely to commit suicide. The study reviewed the medical records of approximately four million cancer patients diagnosed over a several-year period, two thousand of whom committed suicide. A close analysis of those suicides revealed that most took their own lives within 6 months of their diagnosis, and that the rate of suicide remained high beyond those first few months.
Of those cancer patients who committed suicide, mesothelioma patients stood out for their higher incidence rate, ranking among the highest risk of choosing to take their own lives along with those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, lung cancer and stomach cancer – all notable for their aggressiveness and short survival time. The study’s authors noted that, “Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be devastating, which is why it’s so important for every patient and their carers to get the support they need. This study shows how critical the first six months are to improving quality of life and reducing the risk of suicide. Health professionals play a vital role in offering emotional support to cancer patients at this most difficult time. It is important that they recognise the signs of depression, especially when their patients may often have many other physical needs.” The head of policy at the Macmillan Cancer Support, Andrew Kaye, added, “Being told you have cancer is like being plunged into the unknown and can be an incredibly difficult and frightening time. That’s why it’s so important that people are given the right support to find their best way through from the moment they’re diagnosed. Empowering people with cancer to have difficult conversations about how they are feeling and providing vital support are critical to avoiding potentially preventable deaths. Mental health should be taken just as seriously as physical health when looking at a patient’s holistic needs.”
Mesothelioma doesn’t appear out of nowhere. It is caused by exposure to asbestos and is often caused by negligence. If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and would like to speak to an experienced attorney, contact us at 1-800-966-2244.