Unfortunately, it is common for brain injury victims to become depressed, and even consider suicide as a result of their conditions. According to a recent study, people who suffer a traumatic brain injury have a much higher risk of dying prematurely. The leading causes of death include assault, additional brain trauma, and suicide.
The study also identified which patients are most at risk of premature death after a brain injury:
- Drug users – Over half of all premature deaths after a brain injury were linked to drug or alcohol abuse. Some as a result of an addiction before the trauma and some developed after the accident.
- Thrill seekers – Many athletes who suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) will return to the dangerous activities that injured them in the first place, making it likely that they will suffer additional injury. Victims who suffer behavioral effects from a TBI are more likely to become impulsive and indulge in risky behavior, increasing the chances of further head trauma.
- Soldiers – A disproportionate number of soldiers and veterans are at risk of suicide after a brain injury, possibly because they are more likely to be affected by psychiatric illness.
- Isolated patients – Many patients who do not go to their regular follow-up appointments, or deny that they need help coping with the strain of their condition, may be unable to conquer the biological and social changes that are happening inside them. A strong support network is the best prevention for a depression cycle that can lead to self-harm.
The best thing you can do for your friend is to be supportive and available. If he is mobile, try to get him out of his home and help get him into a treatment program as soon as possible. For more ideas on helping a brain injury victim recover, read through our free e-book, Brain Injury Survivor's Guide.