September is suicide awareness month and recent studies suggest a possible link between traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in youth and increased suicide risks. According to a study reported by Psych Central, teenagers who experience a traumatic brain injury have “significantly greater odds” of developing high-risk behaviors, including suicidal tendencies.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) describes a TBI as a “disruption to normal brain function” caused by a sudden blow or jolting of the head. These conditions range from mild to severe depending on the level of injury. Mild TBIs are generally known as concussions, while severe injuries may result in long term memory loss and extended unconsciousness. Youth and teens are at an increased risk for TBIs, due to falls and participation in youth recreation. The CDC reports that in 2009, almost 250,000 children under the age of 19 were treated for sports related injuries, including TBI diagnoses.
The teen TBI study was conducted in Canada, where more than 9,000 students in grades seven through 12 were surveyed about their health and well-being, including traumatic brain injuries. It is reportedly estimated that nearly 20% of teens in the area experienced a TBI as some point in their youth. According to the article, study researchers concluded that teens with a history of TBI were twice as likely to experience bullying from classmates and three times as likely to attempt suicide. Specific observed negative behaviors included:
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