When San Diego Chargers’ linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide in May of 2012, a degenerative brain disease, CTE, was suspected. According to the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 10, that suspicion has now been validated.
Junior Seau’s brain showed “abnormalities consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).” CTE is associated with repetitive head injuries and is becoming more common in football players. The disease is progressive and can mimic Alzheimer’s Disease or ALS, more commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” It can manifest itself as rage, depression and a whole host of other mental symptoms.
Chicago Bears’ defensive back Dave Duerson, 50, took his life in 2011. He left a note requesting that his brain be sent to the “NFL brain bank” for study and his brain did, in fact, test positive for CTE.
And in April of 2012, 62-year-old former football star Ray Easterling committed suicide. Easterling had sued the NFL over its handling of concussions. According to The Daily Mail, Easterling’s wife Mary Ann is continuing that suit, claiming that the NFL attempted to cover up concussion danger among football players. Easterling suffered symptoms of dementia, as well as the inability to focus and organize his thoughts prior to his death.
In Seau’s case, an initial autopsy found no apparent damage to the brain. His family, however, wasn’t satisfied and wanted a reason why the 43-year-old ended his life with a gunshot and left no note. They appealed to the NIH for a more in-depth examination.
Junior Seau’s ex-wife, Gina, and his son, Tyler, reportedly said that Seau suffered from depression, mood swings, forgetfulness and insomnia. These symptoms can be indicative of several problems, but can also point right to CTE.
"He emotionally detached himself and would kind of 'go away' for a little bit," Tyler Seau said. "And then the depression and things like that, it started to progressively get worse."