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Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation:
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e3182225528
Original Articles

A Guide for the Assessment and Treatment of Suicidal Patients With Traumatic Brain Injuries

Dennis, John P. PhD; Ghahramanlou-Holloway, Marjan PhD; Cox, Daniel W. PhD; Brown, Gregory K. PhD

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Abstract

People with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are at elevated risk for suicide. Postinjury cognitive limitations, personality factors, and psychological problems may independently or in conjunction with preinjury correlates contribute to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Rehabilitation practitioners can best serve the needs of this high-risk population by increasing their knowledge and competence in evidence-informed approaches to suicide prevention. This article provides a review of suicide nomenclature, epidemiology, risk and protective factors, as well as evidence-informed assessment, management, and treatment practices for suicidal patients. The science of clinical practice in the area of rehabilitation and suicide prevention is in its infancy. Practitioners who provide treatment for suicidal patients with TBI are encouraged to adapt and individualize existing evidence-informed suicide assessment and prevention practices for implementation within their settings. Each patient with a TBI who endorses suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors presents a complex array of clinical challenges associated with the nature of his or her brain injury, preinjury, and postinjury functioning. Clinical as well as research recommendations are provided in the context of an understanding of such challenges and an overriding objective of minimizing suicide risk during the recovery process and maximizing treatment gains.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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