One day after the suicide of former Miami Dolphins player Junior Seau, experts are saying the brain injuries he suffered while playing professional football were likely the reason why he took his own life.
“This is perhaps more common than we realize. Many patients with traumatic injury to the brain contemplate suicide,” said UHealth Sports Medicine neurologist Dr. Kester Nedd.
Last year, in Sunny Isles another former NFL player, Dave Duerson, shot himself in the chest so his brain could be studied. Seau also shot himself in the chest. Last month, Ray Easterling took his life after developing symptoms of dementia.
Hits to the brain can results in a variety of consequences, according to Nedd.
“One of them includes depression others could include anger management issues, trouble with memory, ability to pay attention emotional breakdown of the person’s situation,” he said.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is the medical name for the brain changes resulting from injury.
“There are some changes that occur in the brain similar to Alzheimer’s or changes consistent with Alzheimer’s,” said Nedd.
Deposits of a specific protein found in Alzheimer's patients can also develop after chronic brain injury.
It doesn’t always take decades for damage to be done. One year ago, Daniel Brett, a local high school football player, committed suicide. In March, his mother spoke to the Broward School Board.
Last week, Gov. Rick Scott signed a new Florida law. Effective July 1, high school football players who suffer a head injury must be immediately pulled from play and will only be allowed to return after getting medical clearance.
One day after Seau’s suicide, 100 former players filed a law suit against the NFL claiming the league did not do enough to protect them from brain injuries.