A recent study of 157 active-duty soldiers and four civilian contractors
has revealed that people who’ve suffered multiple concussions throughout
their lifetime are more likely to contemplate suicide than those who’ve
never suffered a concussion, according to
Pacific Standard magazine.

Until this study, few others had investigated the link between
traumatic brain injury and suicide, but TBI has been one of the most common injuries sustained
in Iraq and Afghanistan, and “[s]uicide is currently the second
leading cause of death among military members,” the magazine reported.

In fact, 303 active-duty soldiers killed themselves in 2011 and another
349 killed themselves in 2012. This prompted 53 Congress members to pen
a March 4, 2013, letter to the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary
of Veterans Affairs, stating, in part, that the number of suicides has
reached “unacceptably high levels.”

Though everyone has his or her own reason for contemplating suicide, as
Frontline stated, and the study’s lead author, Craig J. Bryan, cautioned that
his narrow research can’t prove that someone who suffers a concussion
will contemplate suicide, a person who suffers repeated concussions does
become “more sensitized,” and “it becomes easier for
that individual to experience depression and suicidal (thoughts) as a
result.”

Still, the assistant professor of psychology’s study revealed:

  • 18 participants had never been diagnosed with a concussion, and none of
    those participants reported contemplating suicide;
  • 58 participants had been diagnosed with one concussion, and seven percent
    of those participants reported contemplating suicide;
  • 85 participants had been diagnosed with several concussions, and 22 percent
    of those participants reported contemplating suicide.

Further, “[s]ome service members sustained as many as 15
traumatic brain injurieswhile deployed,” and “[a]n estimated 20 percent of service
members sustained concussions during basic training,” per
Frontline. Others suffered head injuries playing sports before enlisting.

Interestingly, “mild head injuries tend to be more likely to lead
to suicidal thoughts than more severe ones,” Bryan said. “Resiliency
is the rule. I want those who have experienced traumatic brain injuries,
no matter how many, to realize that things are going to be OK, and that
there’s hope, and there’s services available, and that the
treatment works.”

Below, Cleveland, Ohio, traumatic brain injury attorney Christopher Mellino
discusses common causes of brain injuries and how the severity of a brain
injury is measured.

Common Causes of Brain Injury:

Can the Severity of a Brain Injury Be Measured?