A Sign That Junior Seau's Suicide Was More Selfless Than Selfish

brainIn tragic news out of the sports world this week, it was confirmed that Junior Seau, star linebacker on the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots, did in fact commit suicide. With a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, he left behind three children, whom he texted the day before, "I love you."

From the aftermath of the sad ending of this football legend's life comes news that his family will allow researchers to study his brain to check for any damage due to the concussions he may have sustained over his 20-year professional football career. What makes this whole situation even more heartbreaking is that, because this has happened to other players before him, Seau may have intentionally shot himself in the chest to preserve his brain for exactly this kind of study.

If there is anything his children can take away from their father's too-soon passing, it's that in his final, heartbreaking moments, he may have wished for other players to avoid his fate.

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It's being reported that the family isn't even speculating about whether concussions led to his suicide, which no one can blame them for. They need time to mourn their loss and heal. But it seems that both Seau and his loved ones, despite these harrowing circumstances, want the same thing: "To help other individuals down the road."

ESPN reports that the forensic pathologist, Bennet Omalu, who first studied how chronic brain damage can be a factor some NFL players' deaths, will be participating in Seau's autopsy. He discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a disorder resulting from repeated head trauma -- which he discovered by studying the brains of deceased NFL players. We won't know if Seau has CTE anytime soon, as it will take four to six weeks to determine. 

But this whole story is just that much more heartbreaking if Seau was in a place to be so depressed to take his own life, but be cognizant enough that if he were to shoot himself in the chest, his brain could be studied so other players could benefit from it. Even though his children would probably give almost anything to spend one more day with their father, it might give them a tad bit of comfort to think that Seau, despite being entirely hopeless for his own life, wanted to help his peers and bring attention to such an important issue. It's just a shame that it had to come to this.

His death follows last month's suicide of former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, as well as Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson's suicide in 2011. If nothing is done to protect the players and give them support after they retire, I'm sure these guys won't be the last. That might have been the message Seau wanted to send in the very end.

What do you think of Seau's family letting researchers study his brain? Think there's a link between concussions and mental disorders?

 

Image via Liz Henry/Flickr 

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