Traumatic Injury Raises Mental Health, Suicide Risk

November 19, 2018

People who survive car crashes, falls, and other major traumas that require hospitalization are at increased risk of developing mental health conditions and dying by suicide, according to a study published online in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

“Mental health resources should be offered to all survivors of major trauma, and particularly intense supports directed to the highest-risk patients,” researchers wrote.

The population-based, longitudinal cohort study analyzed data for patients treated for major trauma in Ontario between 2005 and 2010. The analysis included 19,338 patients, mostly men (71%) from urban areas (83%).

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Trauma was linked with a 40% boost in the rate of mental health diagnoses 5 years afterward, researchers reported. Alcohol abuse, drug abuse disorders, and major depressive disorders were the most common mental health diagnoses.

Male sex, low socioeconomic status, rural residence, accidental injuries, and surgery for those accidental injuries were associated with higher rates of admission for mental health issues. Youth younger than age 18 had the largest increase in admissions for mental health issues after injury.

Meanwhile, the suicide rate among trauma survivors was 70 per 100,000 patients per year compared with 11.5 per 100,000 patients in the general population, according to the study. A prior inpatient diagnosis of a mood disorder and self-inflicted injury were risk factors for suicide completion.

—Jolynn Tumolo


Evans CCD, DeWit Y, Seitz D, Mason S, Nathens A, Hall S. Mental health outcomes after major trauma in Ontario: a population-based analysis. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2018 November 12;[Epub ahead of print].

Major traumatic injury increases risk of  mental health diagnoses, suicide [press release]. Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Medical Association Journal; November 12, 2018.