Riders who have suffered concussion may be more at risk of suicide, according to a recent study.

Research carried out in Canada found that concussion patients were three times more likely to commit suicide than those who have never been concussed.

In addition, weekend concussions were associated with a one third further increased risk of suicide, compared to those that were concussed on a weekday.

The research, carried out over a 20-year period, involved 235,110 adults who had been concussed from Ontario, Canada.

“We were surprised that the association between concussions and suicide was not confined to professional athletes or military veterans and, instead, extended to regular adults engaged in everyday activities in the community,” lead researcher Dr Donald Redelmeier told H&H.

“The main implication of our research is to emphasize the importance of prevention. When a concussion occurs, you should get lots of rest, return to activities slowly, avoid a second concussion and seek medical care for long-term follow-up. Health care cannot provide miracles but can stop a bad situation from becoming worse.”

Dr Redelmeier said weekend concussion could present a higher risk of suicide due to “feelings of self-blame if the activity was self-initiated.”

Meanwhile, an extensive research project has been launched in the UK, exploring whether repeated head trauma can lead to neurological problems later in life (news, 28 January).

The research, conducted by the International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation (ICHIRF), centres on jockeys.

“It’s a very interesting study and is one part of the picture,” lead researcher and ICHIRF medical director Dr Michael Turner said of the Canadian research.

“The inference from North America is that suicide if very common in the concussion group, but we don’t see that in the concussed population outside North America.


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“When you take sportsmen as a group, they have a much lower risk of suicide than the general population, which is one of the areas we will be exploring.”

The researchers involved in the Canadian study now plan to carry out ongoing research to explore ways to help patients to recover more fully from concussion.

Their paper was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on 8 February.

Ref: H&H 18/02/2016