Objective: To characterize the population of those receiving inpatient rehabilitation who sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) secondary to a suicide attempt and identify differences between such individuals and a demographically-matched control group (n = 230) of those whose TBIs were of an unintentional aetiology.
Method: Analysed cases were identified from the TBI Model Systems National Database. Based on ICD-9-CM external cause-of-injury codes, 79 participants incurred a TBI secondary to a suicide attempt. An approximate 1 : 3 matched case-control (age, gender, race, injury year) design was chosen to make statistical comparisons.
Results: Those who sustained a TBI secondary to a suicide attempt had greater pre-existing psychiatric and psychosocial problems (substance use problems (p = 0.01) prior suicide attempt (p < 0.0001), psychiatric hospitalization (p = 0.014) and non-productive activity (p = 0.014)), required more resources during acute and rehabilitative hospitalizations (i.e. charges per day; p = 0.024, p = 0.047) and had greater disability at the time of discharge, even after controlling for injury severity (p = 0.022).
Conclusion: Individuals who sustained TBIs secondary to a suicide attempt had increased pre-injury psychiatric and psychosocial problems and poorer outcomes at discharge than those who incurred unintentional injuries. For these individuals, acute and rehabilitation charges per day were higher and could not be accounted for by injury severity.