Our purpose is to identify cancer patients at highest risk of suicide compared to the general population and other cancer patients. This is a retrospective, population-based study using nationally representative data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program, 1973-2014. Among 8,651,569 cancer patients, 13,311 committed suicide; the rate of suicide was 28.58/ 100,000-person years, and the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) of suicide was 4.44 (95% CI, 4.33, 4.55). The predominant patients who committed suicide were male (83%) and white (92%). Cancers of the lung, head and neck, testes, bladder, and Hodgkin lymphoma had the highest SMRs (> 5-10) through the follow up period. Elderly, white, unmarried males with localized disease are at highest risk vs other cancer patients. Among those diagnosed at < 50 years of age, the plurality of suicides is from hematologic and testicular tumors; if > 50, from prostate, lung, and colorectal cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number207
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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