The Salt Lake (UT) Tribune (5/16, Whitehurst) reports a study from the University of Utah believes “repeated traumatic brain injuries can significantly increase suicide risk for people in the military and the danger appears to continue throughout the soldier’s lifetime.” The report, published online Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, Lead author Craig Bryan, associate director of the National Center for Veterans’ Studies, said, “We’ve know for a while that [traumatic brain injury, or] TBI is associated with increase suicide risk.” He adds that the data shows “having multiple injuries is even more pernicious.” The study found 21.7 percent of service members with more than one TBI had suicidal thoughts. Just seven percent of service members with one TBI thought of suicide, and “down to nothing for those who didn’t have a TBI.”
HealthDay (5/16, Dallas) explains researchers, over the course of six months, followed 161 patients who suffered multiple TBIs while serving in Iraq. The study revealed “that multiple traumatic brain injuries were associated with a significant increase in depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severity of concussive symptoms. But only the increase in depression severity predicted an increased risk for suicide, the researchers said.” Bryan explained the knowledge TBI may “make patients even more vulnerable provides new insight for tending to military personnel over the long-term, particularly when they are experiencing added emotional distress in their lives.”
— “Multiple Head Injuries Raise Soldiers’ Suicide Risk, Study Finds, “Mary Elizabeth Dallas, HealthDay, May 15, 2013.