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November 27, 2019
1 min read

Concussions from high school sports may increase suicide risk

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Dale S. Mantey

High school students who reported concussions were at greater risk for a suicide attempt, according to survey findings published in Journal of Affective Disorders.

“This is the first study to find a relationship between history of concussion and increased risk for depression, suicidal ideations and suicide attempts among a nationally representative sample of high school students,” Dale S. Mantey, PhD, of the University of Texas School of Public Health, told Healio Psychiatry. “Findings show that it is critical that we expand education on the risks and dangers of concussions in order to better manage the short- and long-term psychological consequences of brain injuries suffered by adolescents.”

According to Mantey and colleagues, prior research has found associations between concussions and suicide in adults, but data are sparse on the relationship in nationally representative youth samples. The researchers obtained data from 13,353 high school students using the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey. They assessed the relationship between self-reported, sports-related concussion and five risk factors for suicide completion using multivariate logistic regression models, which controlled for bullying victimization, sex, race/ethnicity, grade and sexual orientation.

The researchers found that 15% of high school students reported a sports-related concussion in the past year. The injuries were significantly associated with increased odds of feeling sad/hopeless (adjusted OR = 1.2; 95% CI, 1.02-1.42), suicidal ideations (adjusted OR = 1.25; 95% CI, 1.02-1.55), suicide attempt (adjusted OR = 1.6; 95% CI, 1.31-1.96) and suicide attempt treated by a doctor/nurse (adjusted OR = 2.35; 95% CI, 1.68-3.29), and results were adjusted for covariates.

“Adolescents that are diagnosed with concussions (or other brain injuries) should be monitored for changes in mood or behavior that may be warning signs of depression and/or suicidal ideation.,” Mantey said. “We must increase knowledge and awareness of the symptoms and severity of concussions so that adolescents know the risk and their parents, teachers and coaches can help ensure their long-term mental well-being.” – by Joe Gramigna

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.