Though previous studies have shown that concussions can hinder cognitive function, recent research shows that they can also increase suicidal tendencies in teens.
Lead study author Dr. Gabriela Ilie, a post-doctoral fellow at St. Michael’s Hospital, said he discovered that teens who suffered a traumatic brain injury, including a concussion, were at “significantly greater odds” of attempting suicide. They were also at an increased risk of being bully or engaging in different high-risk behaviors.
The study results showed that teens who had suffered from a concussion were more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including drug use, drinking and driving and potentially using a deadly 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, via a press release. “These kids are falling through the cracks.”
For the study, researchers used data from the 2011 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey that was developed by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health. The survey contains information from almost 9,000 students from grades 7 to 12 in publicly funded schools across Ontario. The OSDUHS began as a drug use survey but also ran broader to incorporate questions about traumatic brain injury
“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.”