Issue Paper: Traumatic Brain Injury and Suicidal Ideation in Deployed Navy Personnel
Technical rept. 2010-2013
NAVAL HEALTH RESEARCH CENTER SAN DIEGO CA
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Increasing rates of traumatic brain injury TBI and suicidal behavior among service members are a growing concern. Previous research on TBI and suicidal ideation has been limited, and findings have been mixed. Because TBI often cooccurs with other risk factors for suicidal behaviors, findings that do not control for these other predictors may be misleading. The present study tested a model inclusive of other risk factors for suicidal behaviors, including demographic and military characteristics, prior deployment, family concerns, and symptoms of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD. Results revealed that recent suicidal ideation was more common among personnel who reported possible TBI than among personnel reporting no TBI during the current deployment. This relationship remained significant after controlling for demographic and military characteristics. However, after controlling for depression symptoms, PTSD symptoms, and family concerns, the association between TBI and suicidal ideation was no longer significant. Despite these findings, it would be premature to conclude that the apparent association between TBI and suicidal ideation is spurious. The model tested in the present study pitted a crude dichotomous measure of TBI against more precise, validated measures of psychiatric symptoms. A full and fair assessment of the role of TBI in suicidal ideation and other suicidal behavior awaits the development of more precise and valid measures of TBI.
- Medicine and Medical Research