A recently published study sheds light on what the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) calls “the underappreciated relationship” between traumatic brain injury (TBI) – even mild cases such as concussions – and the risk of suicide.
In an August 2018 editorial, JAMA reports that suicide is the tenth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the second-leading cause of death among teens. The editorial accompanies the study, which concludes that TBI is “an important risk factor for suicide.”
“TBI is particularly common in young adults and the elderly, and severe TBI has long been recognized as a leading cause of death and disability. However only recently has it been recognized that TBI on the mild end of the injury spectrum can have persistent and disabling consequences,” the JAMA editorial says.
Researchers Analyzed More Than 34,500 Suicides
TBI, or traumatic brain injury, results from a blow to or a sudden jolt of the head. A penetrating injury that cuts into brain tissue can also cause TBI. The injury can range from a mild concussion to brain damage that causes a victim to fall into a coma or vegetative state. Because TBI can cause cognitive and neuropsychiatric disabilities, “understanding the relationship between TBI, depression and impulsivity is a clinical imperative,” JAMA says.
For the study, researchers analyzed more than 34,500 suicides that occurred between 1980 and 2014 in Denmark. They found that about 10 percent of those who took their own lives had suffered a medically documented TBI.
“Individuals with mild TBI, with concussion, had an elevated suicide risk by 81 percent,” Trine Madsen of the Danish Research Institute of Suicide Prevention and one of the study’s authors told The Washington Post. “But individuals with severe TBI had a higher suicide risk that was more than double [the risk of someone with no TBI].”
The study identified three factors as being strong indicators of suicide risk:
- Severity of the TBI
- First incidence of TBI occurring in young adulthood
- Discharge from a hospital for a TBI in the previous six months.
The researchers stated that their numbers were likely low because mild TBIs went largely undiagnosed before the mid-1990s. Also, many people who suffer a mild TBI never see a doctor, according to the study.
Florida Accident Victims Should Seek Immediate Medical and Legal Help
The Mayo Clinic states that anyone who has hit their head in an accident should see a doctor if they exhibit behavioral changes or any of more than a dozen symptoms, which include:
- Being dazed, confused or disoriented
- Losing consciousness
- Experiencing problems with physical coordination, memory or concentration
- Suffering sensory issues such as blurred vision or ringing in the ears
- Nausea, vomiting or convulsions.
In addition to getting medical attention, it is also important for accident victims to get help from a lawyer who will protect their legal rights and fight for all compensation they are due.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, the attorneys of Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC, can provide immediate legal assistance. We serve clients throughout Hernando, Pasco and Hillsborough counties in the North Tampa Bay area. Call or reach us online to discuss your case in a free consultation.