Suicidal Thoughts Are More Common in Teens Who Have Had Multiple Concussions

According to recent study, teens—especially boys—are more likely than their classmates to consider, plot, or even attempt suicide a year after sustaining a concussion.

Boys in their teens who reported having had two or more concussions in the previous year were twice as likely to report having attempted suicide. Regardless of prior concussions, girls had comparable probabilities of engaging in suicidal conduct.

“Understanding who is at risk and why is crucial,” study co-author Steve Broglio, who is also the director of the University of Michigan Concussion Center, stated in a university press release. “This kind of research is never easy to discuss.”

The results were released in the Journal of Athletic Training on November 16.

It is thought to be the first study to examine the connection between suicidal thoughts and actions in a representative sample of high school students in the United States and the incidence of concussions.

Lead author Jacob Kay, a research affiliate at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, stated that it is well recognized that brain trauma may trigger or exacerbate mental health issues.

“Our study further highlights the importance of evaluating mental health among both male and female youth that have sustained a concussion,” according to the announcement. “This is particularly true for those who have sustained multiple concussions in a short time.”

In order to conduct the study, his team examined data from the National Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System from around 17,400 respondents in 2017 and 2019.

Key conclusions drawn from the reporting of teenagers include:

  • In the previous year, 15% of kids experienced one or more concussions, and 6% had two or more. That included 13% of females and 17% of boys.
  • 24% of males and 44% of girls said they felt depressed or hopeless.
  • 13% of males and 24% of girls reported having suicide thoughts.
  • 10% of males and 19% of girls said they planned to commit suicide.
  • 10% of females and 5% of boys claimed having attempted suicide; 3% of girls and 1% of boys said they had sustained injuries in the process.

Researchers recommended that medical professionals give extra attention to young people’s mental health, particularly if they had experienced concussions.

Kay stated that although the causes of the observed sex disparities aren’t entirely understood, research indicates females may suffer more following a head injury.

Researchers cautioned against making inferences regarding the reason of suicide behaviors in males, even if the results show that they may act more impulsively. According to Kay, guys too face a “silent struggle” with their mental health.

“In the context of concussion, this could mean there are even fewer red flags among males intending self-harm,” he stated.

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