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Migraine Can Be Life-Threatening

A young woman who had chronic migraine “took her own life,” I told you Saturday. Originally, I wrote that she had “committed suicide,” but changed it after being told the mental health community prefers the phrasing “took his/her life” because “committing suicide” sounds like a crime. The corrected phrasing doesn’t sit right with me either because chronic migraine took her life as she knew it. She chose suicide over living with extreme disability and a severely diminished quality of life from an illness that few people take seriously.

The migraine community is deeply shaken by this young woman’s suicide. Those who knew her are crushed by the loss of a vibrant, warm-hearted, loving person who was only 22. And I believe that those who didn’t are haunted by the niggling thought, “It could have been me.” Even the chronic migraineurs who haven’t seriously considered suicide know the feeling of not wanting to live like this anymore. It is not that we want to die, but that the daily struggle of chronic migraine feels like it is too much to bear and the light at the end of the tunnel often seems nonexistent.

What causes some people to hang on and others to choose suicide is a mystery to me. I have been desperately searching for a way to help suicidal migraineurs. Perhaps the best I can offer is a variation on something Hart told me the last time I was suicidal: Life with chronic migraine is extraordinarily difficult, but that doesn’t mean it is worthless. That and a success story, as I found my first helpful preventive (after more than three dozen unsuccessful meds) two weeks after Hart reminded my of my life’s worth.

When I shared the news of this young woman’s death on my private Facebook page, a non-migraineur friend said that anyone who dies from suicide because of an illness should be considered as having died from that illness. I’d never thought of it that way before, but I absolutely agree. Migraine is not thought of as a life-threatening illness. This young woman’s suicide is a tragic reminder that it can be.

If you are considering suicide, please, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

3 Responses to Migraine Can Be Life-Threatening

  1. R Melcarek says:

    Thank you for sharing this. She was a wonderful young woman. I have other illnesses some like hers others not. Some days the only reason I don’t choose suicide is because of my older child who has a lot of mental illness and no one would take care of him the way I do. I want people to know that when someone is contemplating suicide it is because things really feel hopeless & you are usually at final mental exhaustion. I pray that one day stigmas about different illnesses will be forever gone. One last thing. Her mother did everything she possibly could have and I hope she will find some way of believing that some day. Again, thank you for this article.

  2. Barbara Davis says:

    My daugher is suffering from Chronic Migraines. She has been for 7 months. It breaks my heart because I feel so helpless to help her.

    I appreciate your addressing this as I can understand.

    My daughter had a horrible headache and was on her 14 day so she went to the emergency room. She was so anxious about how she would be treated. She knows most emergency rooms see you as drug addict.

    When the medical society treats you like this during a time when you need help it only increases their stress level and frustration. Which would add to the mental state of mind a very negative, hopeless feeling leading to suicidal thoughts.

    I can only encourage My daughter to keep fighting and not give up.

    Thanks
    Barbara

  3. Michelle Tweedie says:

    I am so saddened in hearing how a beautiful soul suffered so much to the point of feeling no way out, and I do understand, as I was a chronic migraine sufferer myself to the stage of every day awakening to a full blown migraine, tears rolling out of my eyes and doing the best I could to reach for meds to knock me and the migraine out. I too was very much at the end of my hope, feeling there was no way out and not wanting to live. The only thing that kept me going was I have two children….
    I am no longer a chronic migraine sufferer, and I have my life back, as I could not live the way I was. It was a difficult journey to get where I am today, but I am so pleased things have changed.
    Hearing of this young lady really hits my heart as I struggled with those thoughts for such a time in my life and it hits home those really tough days. I hope with my story I can and will encourage others to understand that there is hope and we can change from living with chronic migraines.

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