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Traumatic Brain Injury Increases Suicide Risk in Teens

Teenagers with Traumatic Brain Injury at Higher Risk of Suicide, Risky Behaviors

traumatic brain injuryRecent studies on teenagers with traumatic brain injuries such as concussions have shown that children’s cognitive function is impaired. Now, a study shows that mood disorders, risky behaviors, and an increased risk of suicide can be associated with traumatic brain injury in teens, as well.

Dr. Gabriela Ilie, post-doctoral fellow at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, and lead author of the study, found that teenagers with traumatic brain injuries were also more likely to become bullies, seek help through a crisis hotline, or be prescribed medication to treat depression, anxiety, or both.

Students with traumatic brain injuries were three times more likely than their peers to attempt suicide or of being threatened with a weapon at school, and were twice as likely to be bullied at school or on the Internet.

They are also at higher risk of committing crimes, including breaking and entering, damaging property, taking a car without permission, using recreational drugs like marijuana or alcohol, selling marijuana, running away from home, getting into a fight, or getting a weapon.

Male students were 47% more likely to have a traumatic brain injury than female students.

“These results show that preventable brain injuries and mental health and behavioural problems among teens continue to remain a blind spot in our culture,” Dr. Ilie said. “These kids are falling through the cracks.”

The study used data from the 2011 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, which was developed by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. The survey, which is one of the longest-running school surveys in the world, contains information from over 9,000 students between grades 7 to 12. While it began as a drug use survey, the OSDUHS has expanded with several more general questions regarding well-being.

“We know from a previous study based on OSDUHS data that as many as 20 per cent of adolescents in Ontario said they have experienced a traumatic brain injury in their lifetime,” said Dr. Robert Mann, senior scientist at CAMH and director of the OSDUHS. “The relationship between TBI and mental health issues is concerning and calls for greater focus on prevention and further research on this issue.”

Dr. Ilie noted that most traumatic brain injuries in teenagers come from sports and recreational activities, and can be prevented by using a helmet and eliminating body checking from hockey.

A previous pediatric study, published in January, showed that nearly 50% of kids and young adults who did not reduce their mental strain after suffering a concussion took 100 days or more to fully recover. Among those that had cut back on both mental and physical exertion, almost all had recovered from their concussions at 100 days, and most of them recovered completely from the concussion within a couple of months. It was the first such study to find evidence that cutting back on mental activity, such as homework, can shorten recovery time after a concussion. However, pediatricians have long suspected that children and young adults need to cut back on strenuous mental activity to help heal from a concussion, and often recommend such steps.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Personal Injury Cases Related to Concussions and TBI

If your child received a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result of negligence on the part of the school or sports league, you may have a personal injury caseThe attorneys at Strom Law, LLC can help. We offer free consultations to help get you on the road to recovery, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.



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