Study: Concussions increase suicide risk

Feb 08, 2016, 4:57 PM EST
Source: Chris Brooks/flickr
Source: Chris Brooks/flickr

A new study has found that concussions may be associated with an increase in long-term risk of suicide. The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, looks at the degenerative neurological illness known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which has been found in multiple football players after their deaths. The disease is believed to be related to brain trauma. ABC News reports:

The suicide rate in Ontario, Canada, where the study was conducted, is approximately nine per 100,000 people, according to the study. In the U.S. as a whole, it's about 12 per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study conducted in Ontario gathered information on 235,110 individuals who had a history of concussion over a 20-year period, from 1992 to 2012. In the group there were 667 subsequent suicides -- equivalent to 31 deaths per 100,000 people, or three times the suicide rate in the population as a whole, researchers found.
Those who had a concussion on a weekend had a higher risk of suicide, the study also found. Their rate of suicide was 39 per 100,000 people, or nearly four times the rate of the general population. The study's authors said that while their findings support past research on how concussions can have lasting effects on physiology, mood and behavior, they cautioned that further research is needed.
Based on these results, loved ones and physicians should keep a close eye on anyone who's had a concussion, even if the head injury happened years ago, said senior author Dr. Donald Redelmeier, senior core scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and a physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto.
"Nobody commits suicide in the immediate weeks or the immediate months after the concussion," Redelmeier said, noting that suicide tended to occur on average nearly six years following the head injury.
It's important to note, however, that this study only showed an association between concussion and suicide; it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.