Prevalence of suicidal behaviour following traumatic brain injury: Longitudinal follow-up data from the NIDRR Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems

Brain Inj. 2016;30(11):1311-1318. doi: 10.1080/02699052.2016.1195517. Epub 2016 Aug 19.


Objective: This study utilized the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) National Database to examine the prevalence of depression and suicidal behaviour in a large cohort of patients who sustained moderate-to-severe TBI.

Method: Participants presented to a TBIMS acute care hospital within 72 hours of injury and received acute care and comprehensive rehabilitation in a TBIMS designated brain injury inpatient rehabilitation programme. Depression and suicidal ideation were measured with the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Self-reported suicide attempts during the past year were recorded at each follow-up examination, at 1, 2, 3, 10, 15 and 20 years post-injury.

Results: Throughout the 20 years of follow-up, rates of depression ranged from 24.8-28.1%, suicidal ideation ranged from 7.0-10.1% and suicide attempts (past year) ranged from 0.8-1.7%. Participants who endorsed depression and/or suicidal behaviour at year 1 demonstrated consistently elevated rates of depression and suicidal behaviour 5 years after TBI.

Conclusion: Compared to the general population, individuals with TBI are at greater risk for depression and suicidal behaviour many years after TBI. The significant psychiatric symptoms evidenced by individuals with TBI highlight the need for routine screening and mental health treatment in this population.

Keywords: Traumatic brain injury; depression; prevalence; suicidal ideation; suicide; suicide attempt.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / psychology*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / rehabilitation
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult