Getting Hit in the Head Increases Suicide Risk

It’s almost as if, getting kicked and punched is bad for you.

There has been much ado in the media about traumatic brain injuries, especially with regards to professional football players. Canadian researchers recently published a study in which they demonstrated a link between concussions and suicide in people who aren’t being paid millions of dollars to ram their heads into each other:

Redelmeier and his team wanted to examine the risks of the concussions acquired under those circumstances [ordinary people -Ed.]. They identified nearly a quarter of a million adults in Ontario who were diagnosed with a mild concussion over a timespan of 20 years—severe cases that resulted in hospital admission were excluded from the study—and tracked them for subsequent mortality due to suicide. It turned out that more than 660 suicides occurred among these patients, equivalent to 31 deaths per 100,000 patients annually—three times the population norm. On average, suicide occurred almost six years after the concussion. This risk was found to be independent of demographics or previous psychiatric conditions, and it increased with additional concussions.

The mechanism of a concussion, or why after a lot of sparring you have trouble counting to potato.

In a related study, it was shown that concussions lead to an increased chance of mental illness, exacerbating the problem. The take-away from this, according to the senior scientist overseeing the research, is simple: take this problem seriously.

“But let me at least articulate three things to do: One, give yourself permission to get some rest. Two, when you start to feel better, don’t try to come back with a vengeance. And three, even after you’re feeling better, after you’ve rested properly, don’t forget about it entirely. If you had an allergic reaction to penicillin 15 years ago, you’d want to mention that to your doctor and have it as a permanent part of your medical record. So, too, if you’ve had a concussion 15 years ago.”

Moral of the story? Let your doctor know when you get rocked; unless Joe Rogan follows you around to provide commentary on your life.

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