TBI Increases Suicide Risk
Does TBI increase one’s risk of suicide? It would appear so. Earlier this year the Pentagon reported an extremely grim statistic: In the first months of the year, a soldier was more likely to die from suicide than from war injuries. From early January to early May 2012, the suicide rate averaged nearly one per day among active-duty troops — an 18 percent increase from last year. In August President Obama signed an executive order that strengthened suicide prevention efforts for service members and veterans.
One project funded by the Department of Defense is led by Lisa Brenner, PhD, who is working with colleagues to adapt a civilian suicide prevention intervention for military personnel and veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Brenner directs the VA’s Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) in Denver. She led a study examining suicide risk in 49,626 VA patients with a history of TBI. The team’s findings show that, overall, veterans with TBI have an increased risk of dying by suicide compared with veterans without brain injuries. This is consistent with findings among members of the general population. The analysis was published in the July/August 2011 issue of the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation.