Is There a Connection Between Concussion and Suicide?

Is There a Connection Between Concussion and Suicide

 

Unfortunately, we hear news stories every day about another young person who has taken their life. To most people it is unfathomable someone who has so much to live for would feel such despair to want to die. But often we hear that the person who has taken their own life had head trauma.

Could a concussion make a person want to commit suicide?

After Dr. Daniel Amen, Founder and CEO of Amen Clinics, wrote a column on head trauma in a Northern California newspaper, he was contacted by a woman who told him a very sad story.  The woman said her daughter had been a model child up until the time she had a bike accident when she was about 18. She hit a branch, flew over the handlebars, landed face-first on the street, and momentarily lost consciousness. Since then, everything changed. The young woman went from being happy and cooperative to angry and moody. Therapy didn’t help, and the young woman eventually took her own life when she was just 20 years old. Her mother was heartbroken, especially when she discovered the connection between concussions and suicide and that there are things you can do to help heal the brain after a concussion. If only she had known earlier, she said.

What is a Concussion?

Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury that temporarily interferes with normal brain function. Most people think that concussions always cause a person to black out or lose consciousness, but this isn’t the case. Many people who experience a concussion are never diagnosed and don’t even realize they’ve experienced one.

Concussions on the Rise

More than 2 million people each year suffer a head injury. And the number of concussions in the U.S. is rising, especially among younger people. The number of Americans diagnosed with a concussion rose 43% from 2010 to 2015. But among people between the ages of 10 and 19, it jumped up by 71 percent.

Some of the most common causes of concussions include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls
  • Sports injuries
  • Explosive blasts and other combat injuries
  • Violence

The Hidden Dangers of Concussions

Concussions often cause headaches, nausea, confusion, fatigue, or amnesia about the event. These symptoms may last days, weeks, or even longer. But there are many other symptoms tied to concussions that may not appear until weeks or months after the incident.

Healthy Surface SPECT brain scan:

Surface SPECT brain scan of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI):

For example, head injuries often damage the pituitary gland, an area within the brain that is involved in the production of hormones, including thyroid, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and more. When the pituitary gland is damaged, it can result in hormonal imbalances that cause mood and energy problems, as well as other issues.

Having a head injury also increases the risk of many mental health conditions, including:

Sadly, many people do not associate new symptoms of mental illness or suicidal thoughts with a head injury they suffered months or years earlier. Because of this, they may receive treatment for depression and anxiety, for example, but they often do not get the help they need to heal the underlying traumatic brain injury. Too often, this results in someone taking their own life like the woman’s daughter you read about at the beginning of this blog.

Healing Concussions

To complement other treatments, there are ways to help heal the brain after a head injury or concussion, including:

  • Neurofeedback: This computer-based interactive therapy involves the use of video games to help people control their brainwaves. More than 1,000 scientific studies show that this non-invasive technology can help with TBI, depression, ADHD, addiction, and more.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT): This non-invasive treatment uses concentrated oxygen to promote faster healing. Research shows it enhances brain repair, as well as cognitive and emotional functioning after a concussion or traumatic brain injury.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

At Amen Clinics, we have helped thousands of people with traumatic brain injuries or concussions to heal their brain and improve their quality of life. We use a combination of the least toxic, most effective therapies, which may include neurofeedback, HBOT, talk therapy, and medications, in addition to small lifestyle changes that can make a big difference. If you or someone you love has suffered a concussion or head injury, find out how we can help. Talk to a specialist today by calling 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.

 

12 Comments »

  1. Very interesting and informative. Thanks.
    P

    Comment by Lucille Blais — May 31, 2019 @ 2:10 AM

  2. My son had a terrible injury 11 years ago from a hit and run while he was on his bicycle. He has PTSD, depression, and much memory loss, especially short term. Is it too late for your therapy (especially oxygen) to be of use?

    Comment by Nancy Whalley — May 31, 2019 @ 3:43 AM

  3. I’m interested in the answer to this, also.

    Comment by nancy carlson — May 31, 2019 @ 3:14 PM

  4. Good article! If we have found our way to this group, we probably already know there is a strong connection between concussions and suicide. Keep spreading awareness.

    Comment by Valerie Harrington — June 1, 2019 @ 2:46 AM

  5. Suffering a brain injury and many knocks to my head due to sport injuries has been life changing . The mood swings – anxiety – tears and exhaustion can be such a struggle. Loud noises, people talking to much, or constant ticking noises can drive me crazy that i carry earplugs to prevent me from becoming overwhelmed. Wish i could just not be hear at times but know another day is a fresh start and that life is not easy. Knowing that there are always others worse off than me helps me get through. Because I look normal and find it hard to cope at times through what people see as being rude when I need to leave certain situations of which I have made them aware of how these situations can effect me is very hard to deal with. Head injuries and brain damage changes you big time. The grief and loss for the person that you used to be e can be very lonely and devastating. Feel that if people who suffer had others they could talk to that have been through head injuries would help.

    Comment by tracey vyver — July 14, 2019 @ 6:22 AM

  6. I wouldn’t be able to comment if this hadn’t taken my best friend who committed suicide.
    She fainted and fell back on the floor hitting her head in November. By the summer, I saw her have memory issues and she knew something was wrong. She had a hard time with tasks and making decisions. Her doctor did nothing except prescribe her antidepressant drugs. He didn’t put two and two together that her head injury was still there causing the problem. On March 3, she committed suicide.
    Now I am very alert to severe head injuries. It is good to know there is a treatment plan out there for them. Spread the word to help others.

    Comment by Lexie Stone — July 29, 2019 @ 2:28 AM

  7. My little sister was to rest yesterday. She was dealing with depression after she fell off her bike and lost conscious. She started drinking heavily and added to the horrible experience. She wanted the help and wanted to be happy and sober but the illness was not allowing her. My sister was also taking anti depressant pills. Our family did not know about secondary side effects. Suicidal thoughts ran through her head. I wish we would have known. She thought she had it under control at times and then it would hit again. No one should ever feel like she did. May she rest in peace. Thank you for allowing me to be your brother for 27 years. My Angel Diana Leticia Tinoco Lopez Dec. 16, 1991 – Oct. 31, 2019

    Comment by Rogelio Tinoco — November 8, 2019 @ 12:44 PM

  8. I’ve had two moderateTBIs, and somewhere between 4 and 6 milder concussions. . I have ridden horses my whole life. The last TBI was pretty bad. . Left frontal with bleeding and shearing. I was told “at my age” and after having had more than one. . I would not recover. I was extremely depressed and was scoring in the 12th percentile cognitively. 4-channel Neurofeedback fixed me in less than 30 sessions. . The first 15 did the most!

    Comment by Timmie Pollock, Ph.D. — November 9, 2019 @ 9:36 AM

  9. My 13yo sister has been having suicidal thoughts since age 10. She’s been on an antidepressant and had been ok until now. Those thoughts are back. I remember her having a blow to her frontal head in recess at school when she was like 6. I want to act now before she hurts herself. She has been admitted to hospital before and know that this could be a life long issue. I want her to be normal again.

    Comment by Wendy — March 21, 2022 @ 10:12 PM

  10. H
    I am 68yrs young and have a concussion a few times in my life. 1st was when I was 5yrs old I was hit by a car and never taken to a Dr. I remember seeing double for 2 days and was ill. I was in a car accident and hit from behind and was told by Dr I had a concussion.
    I was a passenger on a motorcycle and we collided with a semi on the highway. My head hit the trailer as we went under the trailer. My back was injured and concussion could this cause learning problems?

    Comment by Deborah cross — May 22, 2022 @ 8:19 AM

  11. Hello Deborah, thank you for reaching out. For more information about Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries, visit https://amenclinics.com/services/concussion-rescue-program/. We have a great doctor on staff who has written a book that’s a wonderful resource as well: https://brainmd.com/concussion-rescue-book. For more information about SPECT imaging and our services, please contact our Care Coordinators: https://amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 23, 2022 @ 3:08 PM

  12. My son had concussion in the July , it was quite a bad head injury . Then a cyst was found but nothing to worry about . He seemed ok suffering a few headaches. He had no signs of depression went on a night out , was fine all night . Walked home and took his own life this was totally out of character , he always asked me how people could do such things , I said something must just go in there heads . I found out a couple of weeks he banged his head again . I feel these contributed but no one seems to want to know . My son always talked about problems and never kept anything inside its so way out of character that not just me but friends and extended family can't get our heads round this .

    Comment by Frances Lee — November 20, 2022 @ 12:17 PM

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