Concussions are also known as minor traumatic brain injuries (MTBIs).
In a lot of cases there’s neuropsychological testing and testimony from experts on both sides about whether our client is back to baseline or still has residuals.
Relatively recently we’ve started spending more time focusing on the long-term effects of MTBI. Things like the increased odds of early-onset dementia. (Right now there’s a lot of push-back from the other side about these risks being “speculative.” That’s going to change over time. They’re not speculative—they’re a reality.)
But there’s something that doesn’t really get discussed. That’s the risk of suicide.
It’s something that obviously has received a lot of attention in CTE cases involving NFL players. But it hasn’t penetrated MTBI personal injury claims.
A large and well-conducted study in Denmark from 2018 established that individuals who suffered TBI were twice as likely to take their lives than those who did not have a TBI diagnosis. The risk was highest within the first six months following the injury.
Depression is a common symptom following a brain injury. It can have physiological causes. It can also be a psychological response to knowing that the injury has changed you. There’s obviously a strong connection between depression and suicide.
On Saturday morning this became a lot more than just a known risk. It became real. A friend and long-time client took his own life. He was one of the first people I ever represented. It feels like losing a member of the family.
His MTBI claim has become a wrongful death case. And we need to take a hard look the care he received (or didn’t receive) following his head injury.
If you’ve suffered a MTBI take care of yourself. Get treatment (even if you think you can handle the symptoms on your own).
If you know someone who has suffered a MTBI make sure to really check in to see how they’re doing. Err on the side of caution. Let them know that you’re there for them.