Concussion is linked to a threefold increase in the risk of suicide in adults compared to the rest of the population, according to a recent Canadian study.
The risk is even higher if the trauma takes place over the weekend, the researchers found, without being able to explain this phenomenon, according to the report published by the “Journal de l’association medicale canadienne” (CMAJ), quoted by the agency France Presse (AFP).
Also, the number of men who commit suicide is twice as high as that of women.
These results support previous studies, according to which such brain traumas can cause lasting physiological changes, invisible on examination by scanning. These would involve disorders of the level of serotonin, a hormone of the central nervous system, which plays a key role in brain processes, including depression.
“Given the rapid disappearance of symptoms after trauma (dizziness, headache, etc.), doctors tend to underestimate the harmful effects of concussions and their importance in the patient’s medical history,” said Dr. Donald Redelmeier, a researcher at Institute for Clinical Scientific Evaluation in Toronto (Canada), lead author of the study.
“More attention paid to the lasting effects of a concussion, the most common brain injury, could save lives, given the effectiveness of suicide prevention,” he added, noting that there are about 400,000 cases of concussion each year in Canada. and four million in the United States.
“The link between concussion and suicide is not limited to professional athletes or veterans,” said Michael Fralick of the University of Toronto, co-author of the study.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in Canada and the United States, with 3,951 deaths and 38,364 in 2010, respectively, AFP notes.
In this study, researchers examined the medical records of 235,110 patients in the Canadian province of Ontario who suffered a concussion over a 20-year period.
They compared the concussions during the week with those at the weekend to distinguish injuries caused by playing sports from those at work or other accidents.
The mean age of the patients was 41 years, with a 50% distribution between men and women.
During a follow-up period of more than 9 years, 667 suicides occurred, mainly with an overdose of sleeping pills or by hanging. Most suicide bombers have never had a suicide attempt before or have been treated for mental illness.
Patients who had concussion during the week accounted for 519 of these suicides, three times the rest of the population.
For those who had a concussion over the weekend, the risk of ending their days was four times higher than in the regular population, which did not suffer such strokes, notes AFP.