Acute Trauma Factor Associations With Suicidality Across the First 5 Years After Traumatic Brain Injury

Published:March 14, 2016DOI:



      To determine whether severity of head and extracranial injuries (ECI) is associated with suicidal ideation (SI) or suicide attempt (SA) after traumatic brain injury (TBI).


      Factors associated with SI and SA were assessed in this inception cohort study using data collected 1, 2, and 5 years post-TBI from the National Trauma Data Bank and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) databases.


      Level I trauma centers, inpatient rehabilitation centers, and the community.


      Participants with TBI from 15 TBIMS Centers with linked National Trauma Data Bank trauma data (N=3575).


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      SI was measured via the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (question 9). SA in the last year was assessed via interview. ECI was measured by the Injury Severity Scale (nonhead) and categorized as none, mild, moderate, or severe.


      There were 293 (8.2%) participants who had SI without SA and 109 (3.0%) who had SA at least once in the first 5 years postinjury. Random effects logit modeling showed a higher likelihood of SI when ECI was severe (odds ratio=2.73; 95% confidence interval, 1.55–4.82; P=.001). Drug use at time of injury was also associated with SI (odds ratio=1.69; 95% confidence interval, 1.11–2.86; P=.015). Severity of ECI was not associated with SA.


      Severe ECI carried a nearly 3-fold increase in the odds of SI after TBI, but it was not related to SA. Head injury severity and less severe ECI were not associated with SI or SA. These findings warrant additional work to identify factors associated with severe ECI that make individuals more susceptible to SI after TBI.


      List of abbreviations:

      ECI (extracranial injury), ISS (Injury Severity Score), SA (suicide attempt), SCI (spinal cord injury), SI (suicidal ideation), TBI (traumatic brain injury), TBIMS (Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems)
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