How a Traumatic Brain Injury Could Lead to Suicide Risk
Traumatic brain injuries can be devastating injuries with lifelong consequences. In addition to physical and cognitive impairment, an acute level of stress can affect these patients long after their initial injuries. Because of this level of stress, many TBI victims find themselves at risk for other mental health conditions, such as suicide.
A recent study has shown people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries have a much higher chance of committing suicide than those who do not have any form of TBI in their medical history. While this study focused on the correlation between the two, it’s likely that there are plenty of impacts from a TBI that could lead someone to not only consider, but to also attempt to commit suicide.
Correlating Factors Between TBIs and Suicide Risk
Part of what makes traumatic brain injuries so dangerous is that even minor damages can lead to lifelong consequences if not treated immediately. Depending on the severity of the injury and what level of the brain it affects, TBI victims are at a high risk for many different enduring symptoms, such as motor skill difficulties, altered or decreased cognitive processing, depression, anxiety, and a lack of inhibition. Some TBI victims may even turn to substance use to attempt to cope with their symptoms. All these conditions can lead to stress for someone with a TBI, creating a situation where suicide may seem like a compelling option.
Many people who are at high risk for suicide are those with mental illnesses. Depression and anxiety can especially put someone in a state of mind where they feel like suicide is the only option to escape their symptoms, and other mental illnesses can have a similar effect. As TBIs have a high rate of leading to depression and anxiety, this puts these patients at risk for suicide. PTSD, which may result from the incident that lead to the TBI in the first place, can also play a role.
Many TBI victims can turn to substance use after sustaining their injuries. Drug use in general is another risk factor for suicide, especially when use turns into abuse and addiction. Depressants, such as alcohol, can be especially dangerous when combined with conditions like depression and anxiety, creating dangerous circumstances.
Another potential consequence of TBIs is the risk of lowered inhibitions and high impulsivity. When the areas that control logical thought and impulses suffer damage, it’s much harder for people to make rational decisions. Someone with such conditions may not think through their actions and act on the impulse to commit suicide.
Cognitive and motor difficulties can cause many TBI victims to feel shame for their injuries, causing them to isolate themselves. It’s also possible for lowered inhibitions to cause awkward social circumstances, which can lead to loss of companionship. When anyone experiences social isolation, it increases the risk for depression and substance abuse, as well as takes away the emotional support necessary for those considering suicide to feel hopeful about their circumstances.
Any one of these four situations can already increase someone’s risk level for suicide. When these factors combine, the risk grows even higher. Unfortunately, victims of TBIs are likely to experience one, if not several, of these circumstances. The resulting stress can be enough for them to consider or attempt suicide. For those going through social isolation, there may not be anyone to help ground a TBI victim.
Just as much as rapid medical care after sustaining a traumatic brain injury, TBI victims also need comprehensive ongoing support. By addressing physical and mental complications, providing help with any arising difficulties, and providing a constant support system, it can be possible to help alleviate the risk of suicide in those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI from another’s negligence, it’s a lifelong issue. Discuss it with one of our San Diego injury lawyers for possible compensation.