Traumatic brain injury linked to higher suicide risk

People who experience traumatic brain injuries could be twice as likely to commit suicide as individuals who don't have a history of these injuries, including skull fractures and concussions, a study covered by Reuters revealed.

Researchers analyzed data on over 7.4 million people over 10 years old living in Denmark from 1980 to 2014. During this time, 567,823 people (7.6 percent) had treatment for a traumatic brain injury.

By the end of 2014, 34,529 people in the study died by suicide. The suicide rate was 20 per 100,000 people annually among people with no history of traumatic brain injury, compared with 41 per 100,000 annually among those with a history of TBI, the study found.

The most increased risk for suicide was linked to the worst brain injuries, the researchers said. People with severe TBI were about two times more likely to commit suicide than those with no brain injuries. People with skull fractures had twice the suicide risk of those without TBIs.

"Head trauma can affect the brain's functions, which can cause psychological problems and, consequently, increase the risk of suicide," lead study author Trine Madsen, PhD, told Reuters. "Suicide is fortunately still a very rare event. Even though we found that the relative risk of suicide was almost doubled after a traumatic brain injury, the absolute risk of suicide is still low."

Only 0.62 percent committed suicide out of all study participants who had treatment for a traumatic brain injury, Dr. Madsen said.

"That said, if a person develops post-TBI emotional problems or psychiatric symptoms he or she should of course seek help or treatment for this in order to prevent (moving) towards suicidal ideation or behavior," Dr. Madsen said.

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