10 Ways Concussions Triple Suicide Risk
Concussions have long been a subject of numerous studies, and the latest accounts have it that it could come with long-term as well as immediate repercussions. Researchers linked the relationship between traumatic injuries of the brain and suicide, as observed with professional athletes and military veterans. Current research findings now reveal that concussions and suicide have a link.
In the past, the link between concussions and a myriad of problems including dizziness, headaches, biochemical disruption of the brain, and clinical depression existed. Brain injuries also come with other side effects including anxiety, inability to rationalize thoughts, anger, nausea, frustration, vision problems, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity and now, suicidal thoughts, and actual suicide.
Canadian researchers conducted one of the studies, based on data from a health insurance database, on the impacts of concussions on ordinary people. The study looked into the data of over 235,000 individuals who had suffered from mild concussions. The results found that 677 people from the group had committed suicide. The data analyzed showed that 319 suicide-related deaths out of 100,000 patients, over a 20-year period, began with mild concussions. Out of the study, men made up 52% of the case population, and 86% of them were an average of 41 years old and urban dwellers. Given similarities between Canada and the U.S, as well as other global countries, the deduction derived from the study reflect on the link between concussions and suicide rates in any other nation.
The study findings revealed that concussions occurred more in everyday life rather than out of the football field as would be expected. Most concussion cases usually arise from falls, car crashes, and when carrying out various home fix-it repairs.
Naturally, the Canadian researchers concluded that adults who suffered from brain injuries had a three-fold likelihood of giving in to suicidal thoughts. They also found that at least 470 of the suicide deaths related to concussions could have been prevented. The burning question would be, how do cases of concussions triple suicide risk?
- Weekend Concussions Proven To Be More Fatal
“The Canadian Medical Association Journal” published an article positing that the mildest of concussions sustained at home could have higher detriment than thought before. The study further revealed that the risk of brain injuries turning fatal increased four times with concussions sustained during the weekend or related to recreational causes. The findings directly mean that recreational-related concussions have riskier consequences compared to those sustained while at work.
The study findings stated that people from a lower socioeconomic background made up a vast majority of the group likely to commit suicides after sustaining brain injuries. Most of the people from this group, from a lower economic background, had also sustained the brain injuries during the weekend. The possible reason why the patients from this group resorted to suicide would be their inability to receive proper medical attention. The majority of weekday brain injuries occur at work, and therefore, the person would likely seek proper medical care more so if their employer covers the cost.
It is, therefore, imperative to keep a watchful eye on loved ones who have suffered from concussions. Whether the injury just happened or years have gone by since it happened; physicians should assess their patients keenly, with the average window period of unfortunate concussion-related suicides said estimated at six years.
Anyone who suffers from a brain injury and starts to have suicidal thoughts should seek help from a physician. With proper mental health attention, such suicide cases will not occur anymore.
- Multi-Concussions Long-Term Injuries
Studies also revealed that people who had suffered from multiple concussions had an increased likelihood of developing clinical depression as well as permanent brain injuries.
Gary Pace, Director of the Massachusetts-based May Center for Education and Neurorehabilitation, says that multiple concussions can cumulatively lead to graver impacts. Suffering from multiple head traumas leaves the brain vulnerable to long-term brain issues including anxiety, inability to properly rationalize thoughts, and depression.
Military vets and pro sports players who had concussions in the past develop clinical depression soon after. In the case of players who return to the field soon after recovering from concussions they often have a higher chance of developing subsequent injuries. However, studies have shown that people who have suffered from two or more concussions are more susceptible to the most severe effects of brain injuries as well as the long-lasting repercussions.
Regular people who get mild concussions recurrently, and do not seek proper treatment, might also develop serious brain issues. The correlation between brain injuries and chemical changes that alter mood and behavior have a definitive link. Therefore, individuals who sustain head injuries several times will undoubtedly suffer from far much graver consequences.
Also, the group of people who already suffer from established life and mental imbalances, and subsequently sustain multiple concussions, have been found to have greater chances of going into depression and committing suicide.
- Lack Of Better Tests To Diagnose Severity Of Concussions
People who suffer from heart attacks often go through various rigorous tests to determine the severity of their condition and treatment gets prescribed to them accordingly. However, when it comes to concussions, tests that can relay information about their severity and prescribe the right course of treatments do not exist. The lack of definitive diagnosis prevents most concussion victims from getting the full extent of medical help they need.
Concussions generally get categorized into the mild to severe range based on the degree to which they affect the victim. However, methods of determining whether a mild concussion could result in long-term brain imbalances do not exist. Concussion patients often get treated for the immediate and discernible injuries, while the deeply rooted injuries remain untreated. When the deeply rooted issues a brain injury patient suffers from stay untreated, it eventually leads to unfortunate incidents like suicide.
However, with these study findings coupled with a better understanding about the impact concussions have on the population, access to proper treatment should be within reach. Physicians should use the results of these studies as a baseline for approaching the treatment of concussion patients. Monitoring concussion patients, as done with those with diabetes and other chronic diseases, become necessary.
For instance, pre-medical analysis of patients with brain injuries should look into pre-existing conditions, such as brain and life imbalances, to determine the proper course of treatment needed. Individuals diagnosed with psychiatric issues including clinical depression, and mental and life imbalances also need close monitoring to ensure that they do not act irrationally leading to sustaining concussions.
- Substance Abuse Increases Suicide Likelihood In Concussion Victims
Individuals diagnosed with substance abuse problems before sustaining concussions have even greater risks of committing suicide. The studies conducted found that people who had prior substance abuse and psychiatric diagnosis ended up turning to suicide as aftermaths of suffering from brain traumas.
People dealing with substance abuse issues have increased chances of suffering from multiple concussions. Given that drug addiction has the effect of lowering inhibitions and exposing such people to falls that lead to concussions, a person with this problem needs keen attention to prevent them from sustaining these injuries. When combined with other concussion-related illnesses, a person suffering from a substance abuse can quickly sink into depression. Add the effects of chemical imbalances that come with sustaining brain injuries and such a person can quickly spiral down to suicide.
Those who turn to substance abuse come from a place of feeling hopeless and depressed. These feelings might get amplified after sustaining a concussion, which likewise heightens their mood swings as well as tendencies to behave more erratically.
The correlation between substance abuse and concussions-related suicides calls for the need to address such underlying issues as a probable cause of treatment. Treating one injury and leaving the other unaddressed opens up the door to the creation of serious impacts.
It takes a combined effort between the loved ones of a concussion victim, who also has a substance abuse problem, as well as physicians to prevent such a person from going overboard.
- Inadequate Concussion-Suicide Education
The last thing anyone with a concussion wants to hear from their doctor includes the severity of their injuries and how their injury has possibilities of ending with a suicide. However, such discussions must happen and as seen from the study results, sweeping it under the rug leads to serious consequences.
Both the concussion victim and their family need suicide education to better manage the injury during the days and years after it occurs. The relatives of a concussion victim need to know what signs to look out for that signal to impending long-term problems. The concussion-suicide education is not only important for victims of brain injuries and their families but also for physicians as well. Doctors offer first care response to concussion patients, and they need to know how to approach treating both the physical injury as well as the psychiatric injuries.
When doctors understand the diagnosis methods, care and treatment methods required to comprehensively offer medical assistance to concussion patients, the instances of suicides related to brain injuries will drastically drop.
Families of victims with severe psychological disorders, whether caused by the concussion or not, need to speak up about this difficult yet necessary issue. It all starts with speaking up, particularly when addressing psychiatric disorders such as depression.
Close and continuous monitoring of present and past concussion victims has been deemed necessary to make sure that they get the support they need to avoid suicide cases.
- Non-Disclosure of Concussions In Medical Histories
The Canadian study made use of medical health insurance data to show the relationship between concussions and suicide. The study findings revealed that many people do not disclose such injuries in their medical histories.
As shown through the research findings, most of the people who suffer from mild cases of concussions do not go in for medical assistance. The study also showed that people from lower socio-economic backgrounds often did not go in for the treatment of their injuries. These factors indicate that the numbers of concussion-related suicides might go on the extreme higher side than thought.
Also, when people who never went in for treatment when they suffered from concussions rarely disclose it as part of their medical history. Non-disclosure of concussions leaves gaps in the patient’s medical data, and if they suffer from the underlying issues related to concussions, the issues will often remain untreated. Some of these problems when untreated lead to suicide.
With proper education on concussion-related suicides, anyone who has brain injuries or sustained them in the past should disclose it during all hospital visits. Communicating information on recent brain injuries not only helps with diagnosis of current health issues but also enables physicians to prescribe the best course of treatment.
Likewise, with detailed medical data on brain injuries and the resulting medical issues patients face, researchers can continue with studies into the impacts of concussions. Continuous studies about the effects of chemical imbalances caused by concussions might just help find better treatment solutions and bring an end to the cases of suicides related to brain injuries.
- Memory Problems And Confusion Increase Suicide Risk
Some of the challenges concussions victims suffer from as an aftermath of their brain injuries include memory problems and confusion that arise owing to damage to the white matter of the brain. Given that the average age of the person who suffers from brain injuries has been estimated to be 41 years, having to deal with problems such as memory loss and confusion further escalates the situation and might end in suicide.
No one expects to start dealing with memory issues before old age, and when hit with such problems at an early age, most people resort to the extreme. The frustration that comes with the confusion can exasperate the situation. Individuals who have suffered from concussions go into depression, and it is easy to get to that state when dealing with memory issues. The fact that depression limits daily activities, if left unaddressed then it could have grave consequences.
Better diagnosis methods would provide lots of help in such situations to catch on to issues such as memory loss and subsequently treat it. However, recovering concussion patients should seek help when they make a note of any signs of memory problems. Family members can also step in to give the support and assistance needed as the affected member recuperates.
No definite period indicates when concussion victims might develop these issues and memory loss might occur immediately after sustaining a brain trauma or much later. Getting memory checks alongside comprehensive monitoring after sustaining brain injuries should come recommended for all concussion victims.
- Young People With Concussion Tend To Be More Suicidal
The brain does not fully develop until a person gets to 20 years of age and therefore, the consequences become graver for people under 25 years old who suffer from concussions.
The rate of brain injuries amongst teens could keep on going higher because teenagers tend to engage in riskier sports and activities. For instance, studies have shown that high school athletes develop memory loss from mild concussions from playing high-impact sports. Also, activities such as skateboarding and skating, which teens love, often lead to high rates of concussions. The memory loss teens suffer from as a side effect of brain injuries can last up to seven days in the case of mild injuries. However, with severe head traumas, untreated head injuries or multiple concussions sustained by teenagers the resulting impact could lead to suicide.
Given that the brain of a teenager has not fully developed, the consequences of sustaining head injuries might lead to more serious consequences such as brain damage. Worse still, teens will not disclose injuries sustained while performing such risky activities and the injuries go untreated until things spiral out of control. The high rate of depression among teenagers combined with untreated concussions doesn’t come with a good ending.
Parents should monitor their children more carefully for any signs of head traumas that might lead to depression. Going for regular physicals helps to catch on to a few of these underlying issues and nip them in the bud before it gets too late.
- Not Seeking Psychiatric Help
Naturally, anyone who gets a concussion will go in to see a doctor for treatment, and as revealed some do not even go in to seek medical help entirely. That aside, fewer people that suffer from brain injuries would get psychiatric help.
On any typical situation, few people go for mental therapy to cope with medical or life issues. Most concussion patients do not deem it necessary to go for psychiatric help. Psychiatric help can assist victims of brain injuries to cope with the depression and other accompanying issues. Psychological problems related to brain trauma stay untreated for long severe depression arises or in the worst case the patient resorts to suicide.
The results of the study on the correlation between suicide and concussions find that most of the deaths should never have happened. Getting therapy comes recommended as one of the ways to prevent future losses of life due to brain traumas. It falls on doctors to encourage their patients to seek psychiatric help. Also, relatives can offer at-home assistance by talking it out with the affected family member.
Once again to reiterate, most of the underlying issues that compel concussion victims to commit suicide can get treated through psychiatric therapy.
- Risk Factors Are Not Diagnosed Early And Treated
Often, issues such as mood swings, behavior problems, and depression do not go unnoticed, particularly with an individual who never displayed the tendencies. Unfortunately, most of the time the head injury gets treated leaving the other issues unaddressed.
Depression, emotional distress, behavioral problems, and suicide attempts all indicate a cry of help from an individual facing life and medical challenges. Unfortunately, most of the people who need mental therapy cannot access it leading to increased cases of suicide.
It falls on friends and family of affected people to look out for these signs for help. Most people believe that doctors should give recommendations for therapy or other forms of help. In essence, it falls on every person who interacts with someone who has suffered a brain injury to urge him or her to get professional psychiatric help and also get treatment for medical issues.
Cognitive Therapy (CBT) features on the frontline of the conjoint recommended treatment therapy for depression. Only physicians should prescribe drugs to treat behavioral and cognitive issues in hand with psychiatric treatment.
Studies into the correlation between concussions and mental issues will continue, with the hope of the discovery of better methods to diagnose and effectively treat these conditions.
While studies have suggested a link between brain injuries and suicide, the results do not conclusively back this claim. Several factors determine whether the victim of a brain injury would resort to suicide. The factors include severity of the brain injury, pre-existing conditions such as depression and substance abuse, and whether or not the affected person seeks medical help for their injuries in the first place.
Unlike previously, when brain traumas were often thought to exclusively affect high-impact sports players and military veterans the most, these studies have proven that anyone can suffer from a concussion. However, the risks of brain injuries resulting to suicide as explained come down to the combination of the severity of the concussion coupled with underlying medical conditions.
Treatment of concussion-related psychological issues comes highly recommended to prevent impending consequences. Patients should give it time before resuming high-impact sports or any other activity with the risk factor of sustaining concussions.
Family and the friends of a concussions patient form an integral part of a brain injury patient’s recovery. More than often, what anyone needs to get through suicidal thoughts includes a listening ear, unconditional support and access to proper medical treatment.
Last but not least, just like the consequences of brain injuries affect concussion victims long-term, a person recuperating from a concussion needs an equal measure of monitoring and support to make sure that they fully recover.