Study of Traumatic Brain Injury, Suicide Risk in Deployed Military Personnel

A study by Craig J. Bryan, Psy.D., A.B.P.P., of the National Center for Veterans Studies, Salt Lake City, Utah, suggests that suicide risk is higher among military personnel with more lifetime traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

Patients included 161 military personnel referred for evaluation and treatment of suspected head injury at a military hospital’s TBI clinic in Iraq. Patients completed standardized self-report measures of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts and behaviors; as well as a clinical interview and physical examination.

Depression, PTSD and TBI symptom severity significantly increased with the number of TBIs. There also was an increased incidence of lifetime suicidal thoughts or behaviors (no TBIs, 0 percent; single TBI, 6.9 percent, and multiple TBIs 21.7 percent) and suicidal ideation within the past year.

“Results suggest that multiple TBIs, which are common among military personnel, may contribute to increased risk for suicide,” the study concludes.

JAMA Psychiatry. Published online May 15, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.1093.