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The link between concussion and suicide

The link between concussion and suicide

A new study has found a link between concussion and suicide rates.

The link between concussion and suicide

Concussion, the most common form of traumatic brain injury, has been linked to an increased risk of depression and suicide in adults.

Now new research from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston also suggests high school students with a history of sports-related concussions might be at an increased risk for suicide. The research, which was published in the the Journal of Affective Disorders, examined the link between self-reported history of concussion and risk factors for suicide completion.

The study examined survey data collected from more than 13,000 high school students in the United States. Researchers discovered that teenagers who reported having a concussion in the last year were more likely to report feelings of depression, suicidal ideations, and planned or previous suicide attempts. Of the portion of students who reported a history of concussions, approximately 36% reported they had felt sad or hopeless (compared to 31.1% of all teens) and around 21% had thoughts of suicide (compared to 17%). Male participants with a reported concussion in the last year were twice as likely to report having attempted suicide and three times more likely to report a history of receiving medical treatment for an attempted suicide than those who did not have a recent concussion.

The study also revealed female students with a history of concussions had greater odds to report all risk factors of suicide. They were more likely to have reported feeling sad or hopeless, having suicidal ideations, a planned suicide attempt, having attempted suicide, and were twice as likely to indicate a history of receiving medical treatment for an attempted suicide compared to females who did not report a concussion in the last year.

“Concussions are a traumatic brain injury and they are even worse for young people with developing brains,” said Steven H. Kelder, PhD, MPH, senior author and Beth Toby Grossman Distinguished Professor in Spirituality and Healing at UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin. “These injuries can have long-term effects such as memory issues and sleep disturbances.”

According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, warning signs of suicide can include talking about feeling hopeless, withdrawing or social isolation, extreme mood swings, and reckless or anxious behaviour. “Everyone needs to be aware of the warning signs and the risks that come with concussions — parents, teachers, coaches, but also the students themselves,” Mantey said. “If there is any concern that a child may have suffered a concussion, it is critical to seek medical attention. If a child is diagnosed with a concussion, everyone in their support network should look for changes in mood or behavior that may be warning signs of reduced mental well-being.”

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