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Hits to the Head Add Up: The Truth Behind Junior Seau's Suicide

Junior Seau was a legend in the NFL. He committed suicide in May of 2012. At the time of Seau’s death, people suspected that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition diagnosed in at least 30 former NFL players. CTE results from multiple concussions and sub-concussions and can cause memory loss, aggression, confusion, depression and thoughts of suicide. It can only be diagnosed after death, as part of an autopsy.

Junior’s ex-wife Gina saw signs of deepening depression in the years before his death. Gina said that Junior could not sleep without prescription medication and that he had become emotionally detached from his children. Seau’s family decided to donate his brain to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In January 2013, the NIH announced that Seau’s brain showed signs of CTE. Gina said that Junior suffered hard hits to the head during his career, but he never left a game because of them. Seau’s family, along with 4,000 other former players, has sued the NFL so far claiming that the league did not adequately protect them from the consequences of repeated head injuries.

Even if you don’t play in the NFL, you can be at risk for CTE. It has been found in football and hockey players and wrestlers. Athletes too often stay in the game after a hard hit to the head, sometimes with pressure from their coach or other players. It is only later, after years of hits and as the player ages, that those decisions to ‘shake it off’ have tragic results.

If you or a loved one have a history of playing contact sports and are now suffering from depression or personality changes, you need to consult with a lawyer experienced in brain injury cases.