Last week, Junior Seau, a long-time member of the San Diego Chargers professional football team, committed suicide in his Oceanside home. Now, many are wondering whether Seau's death was the direct result of the concussions and other brain injuries that he likely suffered during his long football career.
Unfortunately, Seau's suicide is not the first of its kind. Last year, former NFL linebacker Dave Duerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. In a suicide note, Duerson asked that his brain be donated to the Boston University School of Medicine in order that the connection between brain injury and depression be further studied. Researchers later determined that Duerson had suffered from a neurodegenerative disease which was caused by his many concussions, and which triggered the depression that caused him to take his life.
While Seau left no such note, the similarities between the two deaths has caused many to believe that a similar disorder may have caused Seau's suicide. Currently, his family is deciding whether to donate his brain to the same university at which Duerson's was studied.
Seau, who was 43 at the time of his death, was an All-American at USC before joining the San Diego Chargers in the position of linebacker, where he played for 13 seasons. He then spent three seasons with the Miami Dolphins and four with the New England Patriots before retiring in 2009.
Although Seau was not publicly known for suffering brain injuries, his ex-wife told ESPN that he had recovered from multiple concussions during his career. "Of course he had. He always bounced back and kept on playing," she said. "I don't know what football player hasn't."
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Junior Seau's family revisiting decision to donate his brain," May 6, 2012