According to a study published on February 8 in the journal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMAJ), concussions might cause the rise of suicide risk even after many years passed since the head injury.

A medical research team at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, Canada, conducted the study. Researches were able to find a link between the brain injury and serious health risks.

Researchers evaluated the long-term risk of suicide after a concussion in a particular community. “Head injuries have been associated with subsequent suicide among military personnel, but outcomes after a concussion in the community are uncertain.” as read in the study.

Concussions are a hot topic in athletics these days, and for good reason. According to a 2012 study of 20 high school sports, concussions accounted for 13.2% of all injuries in the sports studied, two thirds (66.6%) of which occurred during competition and one-third (33.4%) during practice (Marar, McIlvain, Fields, et al, 2012). Credits: Align Sport Therapy

Concussions might increase the risk of a person to commit suicide during later years by three times. To make matters worse, researchers also noticed that the risk of suicide was four times higher in case an individual has suffered a concussion on a weekend, and the risk was even higher when a person suffered from multiple concussions.

This head injury can directly affect the brain, making it change permanently. It can change the personality of a person, having the impulsive nature as a dominant characteristic among the individuals who have suffered one.

Researchers analyzed adults with diagnosed concussion in Ontario, from April 1st, 1992, to March 31st, 2012; excluding severe cases that resulted in hospital admission. A total of 235,110 patients were identified as suffered a concussion, and a total of 667 of these patients committed suicide during the follow-up of 9.3 years.

“The increased risk applied regardless of patients’ demographic characteristics, was independent of past psychiatric conditions, became accentuated with time and exceeded the risk among military personnel. Half of these patients had visited a physician in the last week of life.” as explained in the study.

It is important to highlight that this study did not revealed an accurate association between concussions and suicide risks. It only showed the possibility of a link between the two problems. Concussions are not proven to be the main cause of suicides, however, researchers recommend that greater attention should be provided to the long-term care of patients after a concussion as a prevention measure.

Source: CMAJ