Brain Trauma & Suicide in Junior Seau
Multiple news sources this week reported on the autopsy of Junior Seau, the football player who died of suicide last year. The Seau’s family donate his brain to the National Institute of Health for study of traumatic brain injury. They should be commended for this act of courage and generosity. The autopsy revealed that Junior Seau’s brain was abnormal from the multiple blows to the head he experienced while playing football. The physicians conducting the autopsy did not know they were studying the brain of Mr. Seau. They concluded that he had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). This is a degenerative disorder of the brain that can be associated with depression, memory difficulties and aggression. Additional, some patients with CTE have headache and confusion.
These autopsy findings may help us better understand the life and death of Junior Seau. Further study will help us understand both the cause and prevention of CTE. The information regarding Mr. Seau’s brain abnormalities and suicide supplies an opportunity of for us as a society to develop a deeper understanding and compassion for the mental health problem faced by many.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, Suicides and Parasuicides in Professional American Athletes: The Role of the Forensic Pathologist. American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology:June 2010 – Volume 31 – Issue 2 – pp 130-132