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Original Research

The Course of Suicide Risk Following Traumatic Injury

Richard A. Bryant, PhD; Meaghan L. O†Donnell, PhD; David Forbes, PhD; Alexander C. McFarlane, MD; Derrick Silove, MD; and Mark Creamer, PhD

Published: May 25, 2016

Article Abstract

Objective: Although traumatic injuries affect millions of patients each year and increase risk for psychiatric disorder, no evidence currently exists regarding associated suicidal risk. This study reports a longitudinal investigation of suicidal risk in the 2 years after traumatic injury.

Methods: A prospective design cohort study was conducted in 4 major trauma hospitals across Australia. A total of 1,129 traumatically injured patients were assessed during hospital admission between April 2004 and February 2006 and were followed up at 3 months (88%), 12 months (77%), and 24 months (72%). Lifetime psychiatric disorder was assessed in hospital using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview, version 5.5, which was also used to assess the prevalence of suicidality, psychiatric disorder, and exposure to adverse life events at 3, 12, and 24 months after traumatic injury.

Results: Approximately 6% of patients reported moderate/high suicidal risk at each assessment. At each assessment, half of suicidal patients reported no suicidal risk at the previous assessment. Suicidality at 24 months was predicted by current pain levels (odds ratio [OR] = 1.16; 95% CI, 1.09-1.23), recent life events (OR = 1.30; 95% CI,1.17-1.44), and current psychiatric disorder (OR = 17.07; 95% CI, 7.03-41.42), whereas only 36.6% of suicidal patients had consulted a mental health professional in the previous month, and 66.2% had consulted a primary care physician.

Conclusions: Suicidal risk affects a significant proportion of patients who experience a traumatic injury, and the risk for suicide fluctuates markedly in the initial years following the injury. Primary care physicians need to be trained to assess for suicidal risk in the initial years after a traumatic injury.

Volume: 77

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