Duerson's Death Ruled a Suicide; Brain Donated to Study

Former Chicago Bears player shot himself in the chest, but first asked that his brain be donated to concussions study

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The former Chicago Bears player found dead in his Sunny Isles Beach home last week has been ruled a suicide, according to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner, who confirmed Dave Duerson died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

    In a text message to loved ones, Duerson asked that his brain be left for NFL research, emphasizing he wanted the "left side" checked out in particular. 


    Chris Nowinski, co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine, received a call from a friend of the Duerson family Thursday night. He made arrangements to have the brain prepped in time for research and sent to Boston University.


    "I'm under the impression the brain will be studied."

    Examination of Duerson's brain will take 3 to 6 months to determine the presence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), or what used to be known as "punch drunk."
 While the condition causes Alzheimer's disease and dementia to occur in former football players five times more often than the general public, it is also suspected of contributing to suicides.

    When Pahokee native and Eagles great Andre Waters killed himself four years ago, his brain was found in a condition consistent with that of most 80- to 90-year olds. Disease was also found in the brain of Penn co-captain Owen Thomas, who hung himself at 21 despite showing no signs of depression.

    Duerson's family have not said whether he suffered from any medical condition prior to his suicide.

    "It's sad, it's shocking that it may have been on his mind" the moments before his death, Nowinsky said.
 

    There currently are 65 brains in the bank and more than 300 athletes in the Center's registry of donors, including former Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas.