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Concussions Linked to an Increased Risk of Suicide in Adults

First Posted: Feb 09, 2016 10:04 AM EST

Concussions may have more of an effect than you might have thought. Scientists have found that the long-term risk of suicide for adults who have had a concussion is three times higher than the population norm.

"Given the quick usual resolutions of symptoms, physicians may underestimate the adverse effects of concussion and its relevance in a patient's history," said Donald Redelmeier, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Greater attention to the long-term implications of a concussion might save lives because deaths from suicide can be prevented."

Suicide is a major cause of death. In 2010 alone, there were 38,364 deaths by suicide in the United States and 3,951 deaths in Canada. Concussion is the most common brain injury in adults; each year, there are about 4 million concussions in the United States and 400,000 cases in Canada.

In this latest study, the researchers examined the records for 235,110 patients with concussion over a 20-year period in Canada. The scientists specifically compared concussions that occurred on a weekend or a weekday to distinguish between recreational and occupational injuries. The mean age of the patients was about 41 years, and half were men.

During a follow-up, there were 667 suicides. Patients diagnosed with a concussion on weekdays accounted for 519 suicides and an absolute suicide risk three times the population norm. Those diagnosed with concussion on weekends accounted for 148 suicides, and an absolute suicide risk four times that of the population norm.

The findings reveal that there may just be a link with increased rates of suicide. This is particularly important to make note of since suicide is preventable.

The findings are published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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