Parents Mourning a Child's Death at Suicide Risk
After a child dies at home, some parents try suicide with child's own opioid drugs
FRIDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- Some parents distraught by the death of a terminally ill child may attempt or commit suicide using the child's painkilling drugs, particularly if the patient received palliative care at home prior to death, according to two case reports in the March 18 issue of BMJ.
Dawn E. Davies, M.D., of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues describe two cases of mothers who attempted or committed suicide after a child died at home.
One mother of a boy who died of a congenital rhabdoid tumor the day before his first birthday committed suicide with the opioids and benzodiazepines presumed to be her son's painkillers. And the mother of an 8-year-old girl who died of advanced metastatic Wilms's disease attempted suicide, but survived.
"The extent to which opioids are used to control pain in the community has changed markedly recently," the authors write. However, there are no laws or guidance on remaining opioid drugs, "beyond reminders to families to return them for safe disposal."
In an editorial, Beverley Raphael, M.D., of the University of Western Sydney in Australia, writes that "looking after the caregiver, both before, during and in the aftermath of the death is an integral part of comprehensive care."