People who suffer head injury have a three time higher risk of attempting suicide.
People who suffer a concussion have a three times higher risk of attempting suicide. The risk further increases if they sustain the injury on weekend, according to a new study.
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Concussion or a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head has been the center of attention over the past few years. Researchers were eager to find out what kind of long-term effects these injuries can have on a person’s brain.
Now, Canadian researchers have found that concussion is associated with higher suicide risk, no matter how old the injury is.
“Patients who experienced a concussion were at increased risk of suicide regardless of demographic factors such as age, sex, socioeconomic status or past psychiatric conditions," said the lead researcher Donald Redelmeier, a scientist at Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and also a physician at Sunnybrook. “We also found that each additional concussion was associated with a further increase in suicide risk, and that the risk was higher still when the concussion occurred on a weekend.”
For this large-scale study, researchers followed more than 230,000 adult concussion patients over 20 years. The average age of the patients was 41 years and most of them had no history of suicide attempt, hospitalization and mental illness before the head injury took place. To distinguish between recreational and workplace injury, researchers also looked at whether the concussion occurred on a weekday or a weekend.
In the group, a total of 677 people have committed suicide during the course of 20 years. The rate was 31 deaths per 100,000 people annually which is more than triple the average Canadian suicide rate of 9 per 100,000 people each year. People who got the concussion on the weekend had a four time higher risk than the average suicide rate. The suicides were not committed immediate weeks or months after the concussion. The average time delay between concussion and suicide was six years.
“We know that a concussion can cause lasting changes in the brain that can alter mood, perhaps resulting in behavior changes including impulsivity, “said Redelmeier. “It’s possible that were seeing greater suicide risk linked to weekend concussions due to risk-taking associated with recreation or misadventure, whereas weekly injuries may be linked to employment hazards. We may also be seeing an effect of self-blame if the injury event was self-initiated.”
Researchers suggest that family members and physicians should keep an eye on the person who had suffered a concussion irrespective of the time it took place and ensure regular brain check up and treatment if required. This is the only way lives of our loved one's can be saved.
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“Understanding how a history of concussion raises the risk of suicide and supporting patients with better screening, treatment and follow up for recovery may be important steps in preventing these tragic and avoidable deaths."