Concussion raises long-term suicide risk

Baku, February 15 AZERTAC

Adults who experience a concussion appear to have a long-term suicide risk three times higher than that of the general population — and that risk rises to four times higher if the traumatic brain injury occurred on a weekend, a study suggests.

The study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, also found that having a subsequent concussion was associated with a further increase in the risk that a person would take his or her own life.

"We know that a concussion can cause lasting changes in the brain that can alter mood, perhaps resulting in behaviour changes, including impulsivity," said principal researcher Dr. Donald Redelmeier, an internal medicine specialist and senior scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

"It's possible that we're seeing greater suicide risk linked to weekend concussions due to risk-taking associated with recreation or misadventure, whereas weekday injuries may be linked to employment hazards."

To conduct the study, researchers analyzed Ontario health records to identify more than 235,000 concussion patients between 1992 and 2012. Over that 20-year period, 667 people with a history of concussion died by their own hands.

Those injured on weekdays accounted for 519 suicides, three times the population norm of about nine per 100,000 annually, while those whose brain injuries occurred on weekends accounted for 148 suicides, about four times the population norm.

In absolute terms, researchers concluded that 470 of these deaths might not have occurred if patients' risks had matched those of the general population.

"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," Redelmeier said.

The mean age of patients at the time of suicide was 41, men and women were equally affected, most lived in cities, and the average time gap between the concussion and committing suicide was almost six years.

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