Suicide attempts are at "significantly greater odds" in teenagers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury such as concussion, being bullied and engaging in a variety of high risk behaviours, a new study has found. They are also more likely to become bullies themselves, to have sought counselling through a crisis help-line or to have been prescribed medication for anxiety, depression or both, said Dr. Gabriela Ilie, lead author of the study and a post-doctoral fellow at St. Michael's Hospital.
They have higher odds of damaging property, breaking and entering, taking a car without permission, selling marijuana or hashish, running away from home, setting a fire, getting into a fight at school or carrying or being threatened by a weapon, she said in a paper published today in the journal PLOS ONE. (link to the live article will be journal.pone.0094936)Dr. Ilie said the study provides the first population-based evidence demonstrating the extent of the association between TBI and poor mental health outcomes among adolescents."These results show that preventable brain injuries and mental health and behavioural problems among teens continue to remain a blind spot in our culture," Dr. Ilie said. "These kids are falling through the cracks." The data used in the study was from the 2011 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey developed by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Since a TBI can exacerbate mental health and behavioural issues, she said primary physicians, schools, parents and coaches need to be vigilant in monitoring adolescents with TBI.In addition, she said many TBI experienced by youth occur during sports and recreational pursuits, and are largely preventable through use of helmets and the elimination of body checking in hockey.The study found that adolescents who had suffered a TBI sometime in their life had twice the odds of being bullied at school or via the Internet and almost three times the odds of attempting suicide or being threatened at school with a weapon compared to those without a TBI.