Trau­matic brain in­jury may in­crease the risk of suicide

Re­searchers found that of the nearly 7.5 mil­lion peo­ple who make up the pop­u­la­tion of Den­mark, more than 34,500 deaths be­tween 1980 and 2014 were by suicide.

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page - By Amy El­lis Nutt

TRAU­MATIC brain in­jury is the lead­ing cause of death and dis­abil­ity in young adults in the de­vel­oped world. Suicide is the sec­ond lead­ing cause of death for young peo­ple ages 15 to 24. Though the rea­sons for any par­tic­u­lar suicide are of­ten in­scrutable, re­search pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion sug­gests that at least a frac­tion of the blame could be placed on trau­matic brain injuries. Re­searchers found that of the nearly 7.5 mil­lion peo­ple who make up the pop­u­la­tion of Den­mark, more than 34,500 deaths be­tween 1980 and 2014 were by suicide. Ap­prox­i­mately 10 per­cent of those who took their own lives had also suf­fered a med­i­cally doc­u­mented trau­matic brain in­jury.

The sta­tis­ti­cal analysis was con­ducted us­ing the Dan­ish Cause of Death reg­istry. “In­di­vid­u­als with mild TBI, with con­cus­sion, had an el­e­vated suicide risk by 81 per cent,” said Trine Mad­sen of the Dan­ish Re­search In­sti­tute of Suicide Preven­tion, one of the au­thors of the study. “But in­di­vid­u­als with se­vere TBI had a higher suicide risk that was more than dou­ble (the risk of some­one with no TBI).” Three fac­tors most strongly pre­dicted the risk of suicide: the sever­ity of the trau­matic brain in­jury, a first in­ci­dence oc­cur­ring in young adult­hood and dis­charge from a hos­pi­tal for a TBI in the pre­vi­ous six months.

Seena Fazel, a foren­sic psy­chi­a­trist at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford, has stud­ied TBIs and health risks, in­clud­ing men­tal health is­sues, in large Scan­di­na­vian pop­u­la­tions as well. “What is im­por­tant in this study,” Fazel said, “is that we can say that these risks are also found when TBIs are sus­tained in child­hood.” The au­thors of the study say their es­ti­ma­tions are likely low since mild trau­matic brain injuries went largely un­di­ag­nosed be­fore the mid-1990s. There is also a large num­ber of peo­ple - es­pe­cially those in­jured while play­ing a sport - who for what­ever rea­son never sought med­i­cal treat­ment. Where we go from here is clear to Bob Knight, a neu­rol­o­gist and pro­fes­sor of neu­ro­science at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley. “It’s re­ally sim­ple,” he said. “It should lead to a sea change in how TBIs are han­dled . . . If you had the same amount of in­jury to a lan­guage cen­tre of your brain, you’d be sent to a speech pathol­o­gist. Bot­tom line: Peo­ple should not be sent out of ER with­out a fol­low-up” by a psy­chi­a­trist or psy­chol­o­gist. –Wash­ing­ton Post.

*All ma­te­ri­als are only for your in­for­ma­tion, and should not be con­strued as med­i­cal ad­vice. Where nec­es­sary, ap­pro­pri­ate pro­fes­sion­als should be con­sulted

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