Plenty of fans were so saddened after San Diego Chargers player Junior Seau was found dead in his home yesterday, after an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. At only 43 years old, it's hard not to wonder why someone with a seemingly happy life and noteworthy career would choose to end his own life and leave behind three children. But then again, we never truly know what goes on behind closed doors. Appearances can be very deceiving.
Junior's sudden death is tragic anyway you look at it, and his passing is already making researchers bring the long term dangers of sports injuries, in particular concussions, into the spotlight.
While concussions are a pretty common injury, especially in contact sports like football, the effect they have on the brain and the potential damage they can cause should not be taken lightly. Areas of the brain that control emotion can definitely be affected, so there is speculation that suffering multiple concussions could potentially lead to depression, and ultimately suicide, for some players.
As a parent, things like this make me so nervous about my son getting hurt while playing various sports growing up. For now, he isn't interested in football, but head injuries can occur with any sport. And the thought of him hitting his head hard enough to get a concussion will continue to scare me more and more as time goes on.
In Junior's case, after playing football in high school, college, and almost 20 years in the NFL, his exposure to repeated head trauma was excessive. And while we don't know if concussions were a contributing factor in his death, or if he is definitely responsible for taking his own life, the incident does make sports injuries seem so much more scary since we don't know their long-term effects. If nothing else, at least the sad ending to Junior's story may raise awareness and make professional sports organizations think twice about how they handle injuries on their teams.
You can hear the San Diego Chargers response to Junior Seau's death in the video clip below.
Do you know anyone who has had long-term effects from a concussion?
Image via Bob Levey/Getty