In some way, we continue to look at suicide as “someone else’s” problem.
As someone who has battled depression and had suicidal tendencies a decade ago, I feel that I need to address several sub-topics within this story.
- The medical research groups that were calling Seau’s family, hours after his death, requesting to examine his brain for possible concussion damage due to playing football, frankly, was unnerving to me. His family is grieving, and yet researchers were lining up to be the first to examine his brain for any damage.
I understand the importance of science and research, but they couldn’t wait for a few days? That was the most disturbing sidenote of this story to me.
- For those who have already concluded that Seau’s suicide was linked to the concussions he had sustained while playing, stop it. We don’t know if it was brain damage or not…at this point. Not all football players commit suicide because of brain damage. For that matter, how many Americans have suffered concussion-like symptoms and committed suicide?
Kenny McKinley didn’t take his own life because of brain damage. He was depressed. Gregg Doyel reaffirmed, to a point in his column Friday evening, what I wrote after McKinley’s death: you are not less of a man if you seek help. Did Junior Seau seek help? If he did, was it effective? If he didn’t, what was his reasons? We will never know that. Making the assumption that getting whacked in the head too many times led him to kill himself seems to be the easy thing to conclude.
And it shouldn’t. There are too many questions that has no answers to in respects to the death of Junior Seau.
- Which leads me to something that has become very disturbing pattern: committing suicide for the noble cause of medicine. The thought that Seau would end his life so that his brain can be examined is borderline insane, in my opinion. Then I thought of former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson. What would make a person end their life in the name of medical research? It feels, to me, like a selfish act. It’s a harsh way of saying it, but what Duerson did, was selfish.
He’ll never know what the results are. His family will, albeit still suffering over his decision, which made no sense in the first place.
No research group or anyone conducting a study is that desperate for someone to kill themselves, so they can donate a part of their body for research.
No other person, athlete or not, commits suicide to help medical research. They end their lives because they have either given up on life, depressed and can’t find a way to end the mental pain, or worse, to end physical pain, a la, mercy killing, that Dr. Jack Kevorkian became a household name for.
In an Associated Press story on Friday, former New Orleans Saints Kyle Turley was quoted in the following:
“Somewhere, the wires got crossed and he unfortunately decided to end his life. But in his last moment — and I will without a doubt believe this until the day I die — Junior Seau ended his life in a valiant way.”
– Kyle Turley, as reported by AP writer Paul Newberry
I call bullshit on Turley. No one dies valiantly by suicide. That is sick, and, more importantly, the most selfish statement I have ever heard. Turley doesn’t get it. He will never get it. I know he has had dealt with personal and health issues, but this is a slap in the face to the families and friends of people who have taken their own lives.
And no, Dave Duerson didn’t make it easy to understand the “torture” he was going through. Duerson and Seau made it harder to understand…and painful for those around them.
Hey Kyle, tell the families you have insulted, to their faces, that their loved ones’ suicide was a “valiant” gesture.
Junior Seau, Duerson, and others who have ended their lives are not valiant.
It’s senseless and a waste. If Duerson was concerned about possible brain damage he sustained during his playing days, there were other ways to help with the research.
Putting a gun to your chest shouldn’t be one of them. Ever.
- The ever-increasing lawsuits that former players are filing against the NFL has watered down the authenticity of the concussion issue. Sadly, some of them are in it for a money grab, which makes it difficult for those who may have a legitimate case. For those who do have a legitimate reason, they will have a harder time trying to prove their case.
It’s because they chose to play football. No one forced them to. They knew the risks of playing including sustaining injuries that would linger after their careers were over. That is the cold-blooded truth, even if we choose to deny it.
If I chose to smoke and I read the Surgeon General’s warning on the cigarette pack, and I light up anyway, how hypocritical is it for me to sue the tobacco industry for something I was warned not to do, but I did it anyway?
So, this is as far as I’ll go on this subject for now. I can’t say this enough to men who are contemplating suicide: you are not less of man if you seek help. Stop acting like you can handle this yourself. Call someone, get help. I did 10 years ago.
Why am I still here and not six feet under? Because I didn’t want to miss family event or something a friend did. I didn’t want to miss history take place. I didn’t want to miss something that could give me hope.
That last sentence is what keeps me going each day. Don’t be a selfish valiant hero.