UCLA Brain Injury Research Center probing NFL suicides
LA Health Examiner
The apparent suicide of former NFL star linebacker Junior Seau by a gunshot to the chest in May 2 has attracted the attention of UCLA Brain Injury Research Center (BIRC). Last month the center received funding from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to conduct research on sports concussions. In addition, the center has been assisting both the National Football League (NFL) and the Pentagon in the development of guidelines to be followed before allowing an athlete to resume play, or a soldier to return to combat, after suffering a concussion. Beyond the NFL and military, the BIRC is part of The National Sport Concussion Outcomes Study Consortium, which is examining the effects of head injuries on student-athletes over the course of their college careers and beyond.
Seau’s death was preceded by the suicide last year of former Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson, who also shot himself in the chest. Before his death, Duerson sent text messages to family members requesting that his brain tissue be examined for the same damage that had been found in other retired players: a disorder known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease linked to depression, dementia and occasionally suicide.