Attempted Suicide and Traumatic Brain Injury

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Brain injuries caused by attempted suicide are on the rise. The Center for Disease Control in a 2004 report indicated that overall firearms related deaths increased 11% from 7.6 per 100,000 to 8.4 per 100,000. 66.5% of all firearms caused brain injuries were regarded as “suicidal in intent”. In a 2002 report of the Massachusetts Department of Health, Injury Surveillance Program, 23% of the brain injuries in the state were associated with firearms. In rural areas there is a similar trend towards increased self-inflicted brain injuries. In a Colorado Department of Public Health report from 2000, the rate of brain injury related to a suicide attempt was 15.0 per 100,000. Clearly, suicide attempts need to be recognized as an increasing factor in brain injury in both rural and urban environments.

The problems caused by brain injuries resulting from suicide attempts are complex and multi-layered. Prior psychiatric issues and psychosocial stressors are the factors which will remain for the individual who survives a self-inflicted brain injury and enters into rehabilitation and long term recovery. The mental health issues will require attention during and after rehabilitation. Certainly there are issues related to prevention which cannot be overlooked. We have also identified that individuals living in rural environments experience different outcomes from individuals who live in urban environments due to factors related to availability of services and access issues.

Our preliminary study of Attempted Suicide as a Cause of Brain Injury will be presented at the Fifth Inter Urban Brain Injury Conference in Peterborough, Ontario on October 21, 2005. We are looking for information from rehabilitation and mental health professionals and consumers which can help us in our further study of the problems experienced by individuals over the long term course of their recovery from a self-inflicted brain injury. If you are interested in participating, please contact: Rolf Gainer at
rbgainer@brookhavenhospital.com

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