Head & Brain Injury Advice and Resources


Detecting the Risk of Suicide in a Depressed Survivor of TBI

Various studies of suicide rates among survivors of TBI, especially those who served in the military, have shown a significant increase in their suicide risk.Most probably this is associated with psychiatric, emotional, and substance abuse problems triggered by TBI. Although nearly all people who take their own lives are depressed not all depressed people attempt or even think about suicide.

How do you differentiate between a depressed person who is likely to commit suicide and one is not. Accordingly to researcher Lars-Håkan Thorell, associate professor in experimental psychiatry at Linköping University, it’s not the severity of the depression. Rather it is the presence of measurable “hypo-reactivity.” What is hypo-reactivity? It is the lack of a rise in blood pressure and sweat gland activity in response to a stimulus that would raise them in normal people.

In a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research Dr. Thorell found that a simple test of blood pressure and sweat gland activity in the finger was 97% accurate in determining which depressed patients were most likely to take their own lives and which depressed patients were not.