(HealthDay News) – Military personnel with multiple traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) may be at increased risk for suicide, according to research published online May 15 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Craig J. Bryan, PsyD, of the National Center for Veterans Studies in Salt Lake City, and Tracy A. Clemans, Psy.D., of VA VISN 19 Mental Illness Research Education Clinical Center in Denver, analyzed data from clinical interviews, physical examinations, and self-reported measures of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicidal thoughts and behaviors in a sample of 161 deployed military personnel referred for TBI evaluation and treatment.

The researchers found that severity of symptoms for depression, PTSD, and TBI significantly increased with increasing number of TBIs. The number of TBIs was associated with incidence of lifetime suicidal thoughts or behavior (no TBIs, 0%; single TBI, 6.9%; multiple TBIs, 21.7%) and suicidal ideation within the past year (no TBIs, 0%; single TBI, 3.4%; multiple TBIs, 12%). After controlling for the effects of depression, PTSD, and TBI symptom severity, the number of TBIs was linked with increased suicide risk. Cumulative TBIs also were associated with depression.

“Results of the current study supported our hypothesis that military personnel who have sustained more TBIs report more severe psychological symptoms and greater suicide risk,” the authors write.

Bryan disclosed receiving research grants from the Department of Defense and honoraria/salary from the American Association for Suicidology.

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