High school students, particularly males, who reported a history of concussion in the last year were more likely than their nonconcussed peers to engage in suicidal thoughts, planning, or attempts, a new study shows.

Male teens who reported two or more concussions in the past year were twice as likely to report a suicide attempt than males who reported one concussion. Increased odds of suicidal behaviors were similar for females regardless of concussion frequency.

“This type of research is never easy to discuss, but it is vitally important to understand who is at risk and why,” says Steve Broglio, professor of kinesiology and director of the University of Michigan Concussion Center and coauthor of the study in the Journal of Athletic Training. “Anyone who has concern for any student-athlete should not be afraid to reach out and help find the appropriate resources.”

This is believed to be the first known study to examine the relationship between suicidal behaviors and concussion frequency in a nationally representative sample of US high school students.

“From broader literature we know that brain injuries, like concussion, can precipitate or exacerbate mental health challenges,” says lead author Jacob Kay, rehabilitation scientist at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital and the University of South Carolina.

“Our study further highlights the importance of evaluating mental health among both male and female youth that have sustained a concussion. This is particularly true for those who have sustained multiple concussions in a short time.”

Read the full article about suicide in high school athletes by Laura Bailey at Futurity.