Mental Health

Teen Concussions Boost Suicide Risk

Christine Hsu
April 15, 2014 05:44 PM EDT

Concussions may increase the risk of suicide attempts in teens, according to a new study.

Lead researcher Dr. Gabriela Ilie, a post-doctoral fellow at St. Michael's Hospital, found that teens who've suffered a traumatic brain injury such as a concussion are at "significantly greater odds" of attempting suicide, being bullied and engaging in high risk behaviors.

The study revealed that teens who've suffered concussions were more likely to engage in activities like damaging property, breaking and entering, taking a car without permission, selling marijuana, running away from home, setting fires, getting into fights or carrying a weapon.

"These results show that preventable brain injuries and mental health and behavioral problems among teens continue to remain a blind spot in our culture," Ilie said in a news release. "These kids are falling through the cracks."

"We know from a previous study based on OSDUHS data that as many as 20 per cent of adolescents in Ontario said they have experienced a traumatic brain injury in their lifetime," said Dr. Robert Mann, senior scientist at CAMH and director of the OSDUHS, according to a news release. "The relationship between TBI and mental health issues is concerning and calls for greater focus on prevention and further research on this issue."

The latest study involved data from the 2011 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey developed by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada.  The survey involved almost 9,000 students from Grades 7-12 in publicly funded schools across Ontario.

The findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE.