Suicide, Self-Acceptance and Traumatic Brain Injury

The December 2007 issue of Brain Injury states that people with a traumatic brain injury are at 3-4 times the risk of suicide than the general population. Why is that? Frequently it is depression over inability to perform life tasks (including self-care, work, and/or relationships) with hopelessness that things will ever change. Attitude is key. A perfectionist approach will only lead to self-criticism, self-denigration, discouragement, and  despair. A self-compassionate and self-accepting perspective will relieve the stress and inward-directed anger caused by judgment.

Perfectionism is a major risk factor for suicide for any person not just one with a TBI. In September 2014 a group of researchers led by York University Psychology Professor Gordon Flett published an article with that finding in the APA journal Review of General Psychology.  Dr. Flett noted that people whose occupation emphasizes precision (such as physicians, lawyers and architects) or who are in leadership roles tend to be to be perfectionistic and relentlessly demanding on themselves.

Because of perfectionism, such people are unlikely to admit to suicidal feelings, ideas or plans, and unlikely to seek help, so it is up to family to spot depression and get intervention.

If you have a loved one with a TBI who exhibited perfectionism before his/her brain injury, then it would be highly appropriate to closely observe his/her mood and behavior. Is your loved one exhibiting the signs and symptoms of depression? Has he/she expressed feelings of uselessness, worthlessness, despair or hopelessness. If so, please consider getting your loved one to see a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

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