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Multiple Head Injuries Raise Soldiers' Suicide Risk, Study Finds
Date:5/15/2013

large number of service members within two days of impact."

The patients also were surveyed about their symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, concussions and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

One in five patients who had sustained two or more traumatic brain injuries reported suicidal thoughts or preoccupation with suicide at some point in their past, the study revealed.

Of those who suffered one traumatic brain injury, 6.9 percent reported having suicidal thoughts. None of the participants without a traumatic brain injury had such thoughts.

Of the patients with two or more traumatic brain injuries, 12 percent had suicidal thoughts during the past year. In contrast, 3.4 percent of those with one brain injury had suicidal thoughts.

The study also showed 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.

"That head injury and resulting psychological effects increase the risk of suicide is not new," Bryan said. "But knowing that repetitive [traumatic brain injuries] 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."

The researchers said more extensive research involving larger groups of people is needed to confirm the results, since the study found only an association between brain injuries and suicide risk in military personnel and did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among U.S. military personnel.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on

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