I have written many articles on the need to stop smoking and I make no apologies for that. Smoking remains a serious health problem in the US. In 2020 there were an estimated 30 million adults in the US were smokers. More than 16 million adults have been diagnosed with smoking related diseases which are associated with much poorer health outcomes including death. COPD is a special concern for people who smoke. The latest data tells us that people who smoke and are diagnosed with COPD have poor mental health outcomes including death by suicide. Recent study reviews have found that patients with COPD were almost twice as likely to die by suicide than those without COPD.

I have been treating patients with COPD for decades and recognize that the limitations to life style brought on by symptoms of shortness of breath and general loss of muscle strength lead to a chronic frustration and depression. Until now I was unaware, perhaps like many of my colleges, that suicide was a potential part of this disease complex.

Many COPD patients are reluctant to seek attention for depression and I do not recall anyone threatening suicide during an office interview but like many mental health issues the problem is often hidden or kept quiet. Like many mental health issues it is compounded by the fact that adequate mental health treatment is not readily or affordably available to many patients.

Call the suicide hotline at 988 if you have any thoughts of suicide