Understanding How Suicide Relates to PTSD and TBI

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Every year, more than 41,000 people die by suicide in the United States. During September, you can help combat stigma and raise awareness about suicide and prevention, connect with people you know who are impacted, and share resources to help those at risk.

You can also get involved on social media by sharing the infographic below using the hashtags #SuicidePrevention and #StigmaFree.

How does our work help?

We are a nonprofit translational research organization, which includes a focus on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) research, which are both closely correlated with suicidal ideation and suicide. We have set an aggressive roadmap to ensure that precision diagnostics and targeted therapeutics are a focus of national efforts and milestone-driven research.

Learn about our research that is already making a difference

Discovering the biological underpinnings of PTSD

With the Psychiatric Genetics Consortium and Broad Institute, we co-sponsored the largest genome-wide association study meta-analysis of PTSD to date. Using a multi-ethnic cohort that includes over 30,000 PTSD cases, 170,000 controls and is over ten times the size of any previous analysis, we discovered six genetic markers for PTSD risk. Our investment to drive the global coordination of this meta-analysis led to the discovery of genetic markers not previously associated with PTSD and confirmation there is a substantial genetic component to PTSD. Results from this study have significant implications for advancing our understanding of the pathophysiology of this debilitating syndrome and are critical to developing novel biologically-based treatment approaches.

Advancing personalized medicine for PTSD

We funded Stanford University to conduct the Biomarker Establishment for Superior Treatment (BEST) PTSD study. The research involves resting-state MRI & electroencephalography (EEG) to identify clinical biomarkers and brain activity patterns, or neural signatures, in PTSD. This study uses neuroimaging and behavioral signatures to stratify PTSD patients into distinct subgroups based solely on the biological signature or biotype. The analysis revealed that patients with a particular biotype might not respond to first-line PTSD treatments and behavioral therapy. It is expected that these findings could set the stage for future noninvasive brain stimulation approaches that will more quickly identify patients susceptible to developing PTSD and for treating patients with PTSD who are refractory to psychotherapy or first-line pharmacotherapy.

Advancing Solutions for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Launching a National Precision Research Roadmap

The Brain Trauma Blueprint is a framework that enables cross-sector stakeholders to advance precision diagnostics and treatments for brain trauma through a collaborative effort. The framework comprises a 12-step process that engages the community in a transparent and coordinated network to bridge translational research gaps in TBI and advance a new generation of diagnostics and therapeutics. Making advancements will require an approach based on each person’s unique biology to bring us closer to realizing effective and personalized treatments.

Identifying population differences is critical to improving the lives of those suffering from the chronic effects of TBI

Authored by leading experts across the TBI field, the second paper in a series, Epidemiology of Chronic Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury, explores how factors like age, race, and co-existing conditions influence TBI outcomes across populations and how these differences can help standardize precision solutions.

Our Commitment to Suicide Prevention Advocacy

Our advocacy efforts focus on building a national consensus for prioritizing research and activities that make precision diagnostics and targeted therapeutics a focus of policymakers and governmental leaders. By treating the underlying conditions that contribute to suicide and supporting an evidence-based roadmap to speed research solutions, we know we can make meaningful progress in combating the suicide epidemic.

Veterans Advisory Council

Our Veterans Advisory Council (VAC) includes senior leaders from Veteran Service Organizations, nonprofits, industry, government, and families who have a deep personal commitment to Veterans’ concerns related to brain health. The VAC is committed to advancing suicide prevention by pursuing legislation and other measures to garner support and advance a comprehensive regimen of brain health research.

Taking Action to Advance Suicide Prevention on the National Level

Over the past four years, we have helped to lead efforts to advance new legislation and Federal initiatives aimed at improving Veterans’ access to mental health care as well as necessary investments into suicide prevention measures and supporting innovative research into those conditions known to increase the risk of suicide, including PTSD and TBI. Learn more about our work as part of the Coalition to Heal Invisible Wounds and how you can support these efforts.

22 Jumps

U.S. Marine Veteran Tristan Wimmer lost his brother and fellow Marine to suicide in 2015 after he sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in Iraq and struggled with TBI for nearly a decade. In his memory, and to raise awareness and funds for TBI research and Veterans suicide prevention, Tristan completed 22 BASE jumps off Arizona’s Camelback Mountain.

Suicide Prevention Resources

For Immediate Assistance

Learn More and Get Involved

Mental Health Resources during COVID-19

Resources for Veterans:

Resources for those living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or mental illnesses:

Resources for healthcare workers, first responders and caregivers:

Share this article:

More from CVB


Discussing the Normative Neuroimaging Library with Dr. James Stone


Thoughts on COVID-19 from Frank Larkin, Chair of the Veterans Advisory Council


A Navy SEAL Talks Commitment and Care