The annual suicide rate for US veterans with a TBI was measured as 86 out of 100,000 ‘person years’, versus 37 out of 100,000 for those with no previous TBI diagnosis.

Person years factor in both the number of people in a study and the amount of time each person spends in it.

In this case sample data was taken from the Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA) and the National Death Index between 2005 and 2015, alongside more than 1.4 million US military veterans’ electronic medical records, were used throughout this study.

Firearms were the leading means of suicide for both TBI and non-TBI veterans with 68 per cent of the case studies indicating the use of the gun.

Among TBI cases, 78 per cent of veterans used a firearm as a means to suicide.

US firearm regulations set by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1993 do not account for those who have been medically diagnosed as suffering a brain injury.

The University of Colorado’s research team reported: “These findings underscore the importance of understanding veterans’ lifetime history of TBI to prevent future deaths by suicide and support the implementation of screening initiatives for lifetime history of TBI among all individuals utilizing the VHA.”

Earlier this year, the Danish Institute for Suicide Preventions’ reported its findings that one in 20 suicides could be as a result of brain injury.

Meanwhile, a 2017 report (Palladino, 2017) aimed to gauge the suicide risk of US veterans who were homeless and had experienced a TBI.

Using US Department of Veteran Affairs data, with adjustments for age and sex, suicide risk in veterans was measured as 22 per cent higher than the general adult population.

 

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