New research shows that U.S. Military personnel who have suffered from traumatic brain injuries appear to face a greater risk of suicide. The National Center for Veterans Studies at the University of Utah conducted a study, which surveyed 161 military personnel on tour in Iraq. Over the course of the study, the researchers collected data on patients during treatment at an outpatient traumatic brain injury clinic at a combat support hospital in Iraq.
A large portion of the data was collected from patients who had suffered traumatic brain impact within two days of being assessed. Notably, the immediacy of the data collection provided the researchers' unique grounds for formulating their assessments.
Upon assessing the magnitude of the patients’ traumatic brain injuries, the researchers divided the patients into three different groups, based on the number of traumatic brain injuries sustained during their lifetime – zero; single; or multiple. Subsequently, the patients were surveyed about their depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, concussions, suicidal thoughts, and behavior.
“one in five patients (21.7 percent) who had ever sustained more than one TBI reported suicidal ideation – thoughts about or preoccupation with suicide – at any time in the past. For patients who had received one TBI, 6.9 percent reported having suicidal thoughts, and zero percent for those with no TBIs. In evaluating the lifetime risk, patients were asked if they had ever experienced suicidal thoughts and behaviors up to the point they were assessed.”
The results of this study provide valuable information and new insight for professionals treating wounded combat servicemen and women over the long-term; especially those servicemen and women who are experiencing added emotional distress in their lives. Overall, this new data may help manage and lower the risk of suicide among the U.S. Military.