Reported History of Traumatic Brain Injury Among Suicide Decedents: National Violent Death Reporting System, 2003–2017


      Traumatic brain injury is a major cause of death and disability in the U.S., and research shows that individuals who suffer traumatic brain injury have an increased risk for suicide. This study examines the characteristics of suicide decedents with a documented traumatic brain injury history using a database containing circumstantial data on suicides and examines the differences in traumatic brain injury‒ and nontraumatic brain injury‒related suicides within the general population and within individuals with a history of military service.


      Logistic regression models estimated AORs and 95% CIs of suicide among those with and without a previous traumatic brain injury using data from the 2003–2017 National Violent Death Reporting System (analyzed in 2020).


      From 2003 to 2017, a total of 203,157 suicide decedents were identified, and 993 had a documented traumatic brain injury before suicide. Among those with a documented traumatic brain injury, a higher percentage were White non-Hispanic. Firearm injuries were the most common method of suicide for both groups. Poisoning was more common among decedents with a previous traumatic brain injury than among those without. Male individuals, those who were single, and those who served in the military were 1.4 times more likely to have a documented traumatic brain injury history before the suicide. Almost 1 in 5 suicides (18.9%) documenting traumatic brain injury occurred among individuals with a history of military service.


      Comprehensive suicide prevention approaches are imperative. Healthcare providers can play a role in assessing and identifying patients at increased risk of suicide, including those who have experienced falls or injuries that often result in traumatic brain injury, and provide tailored interventions or referrals.
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