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Concussion May Triple the Risk of Suicide

By on March 23, 2016 In Proving TBI, Rehabilitation, Research
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Researchers at the University of Toronto have released the results of a study of the incidence of suicide in 236,000 concussion patients followed over a 20 year period.  The findings, reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, show three time the risk of suicide in patients with a history of concussion than in the general population. The increased risk of suicide applied regardless of the patients’ demographic characteristics, became accentuated over time and exceeded the risk among military personnel. In an effort to explain these findings, the authors note that:

Past studies have suggested that a concussion can cause lasting deficits through change in physiology (e.g., disrupted serotonin pathways,) mood (e.g., post- traumatic stress disorder) or behavior (e.g., disinhibition with impulsivity.)

Needless to say, one of the limitations of the study is that it does not permit definitive conclusions concerning causation. For example, as the authors point out, a concussion might indicate a latent predisposition toward suicide before the injury or worsening neurodegenerative deficits that precipitated the injury. These alternative explanations, however, seem unlikely.  The importance of this study is that concussions have often been neglected based on the popular belief that symptoms resolve quickly, leave nothing on medical imaging and require no follow up, either medically or psychologically.

This study highlights the importance of paying more attention to the potential long term implications of concussion, taking further steps to avoid concussion, and considering the potential implications of concussion in providing ongoing medical and psychological care.

1 Comment(s)

  • Thank you for the insightful article. I played college football in the mid-70’s, and though I suffered from a number of “hard hits” to the head, concussions were not really discussed or treated as they are today (on all levell). I know for a fact that the effects of TBI may not be recognized for many years. This is the case for some of my teammates, one in particular could be the poste child for TBI. Over the past 2-years, in his early 60’s, he is dealing with rage issues, anxiety, congnition concerns, and much more. Everyone recognizes the that concussions exist. However, how are we treating the millions of TBI victims suffering in silence. I read today that the University of California, San Francisco is doing major clinical reserarch in the field of stem cell – http://tbistemcellstudy.ucsf.edu/index.php . We have helped my teammates to some degree using other modality. But, all in all, the treatment has to be discovered. Anything is worth the try

    By Mike Angius 16/5/16