With all the illogical conclusions that are happening in the press there are some small positives already. The biggest of which, less than 24 hours after the untimely death of a great individual is the former players speaking out about depression and post-career condition. No longer has it become taboo to talk of depression.
Now players need to take stock of their physical and mental health, some players are such as Emmitt Smith;
“Depression & suicide are serious matters and we as current and former NFL players should demand better treatment. Lack of info … no more!!!,” former Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith said on his Twitter account.
“And for you current players who think this issue doesn’t effect u. Get your head out of your but. Where u r 2day was his (Seau’s) yesterday.”
In the same article James Johnston Jr., had this comment on former NFL’ers;
“NFL players often experience post-concussion syndrome,” said James Johnston Jr., M.D., assistant professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in a statement. “They have a higher rate of depression, substance abuse, and dementia compared to the general population – it’s thought this is connected to head impacts.”
Harry Carson former New York Giant great had more sobering and heartfelt words;
“When I heard it, I have to say in the past I would have been shocked,” the Hall of Fame Giants linebacker said. “But I’m not shocked anymore.”
Carson, early in his career back in the 1980s, said he contemplated suicide while driving over the Tappan Zee Bridge. Then he thought about leaving his infant daughter without a father.[…]
“I knew how I felt as a player, having those thoughts of suicide, and you’re going through something, and it’s like you can’t really explain what you’re dealing with, and it’s neurological,” he said. “You have these deep bouts of depression, and people think you’re depressed because you’re not playing anymore. You’re depressed because you’re having neurological issues that are very difficult to describe.”
Carson added, “When you’re dealing with depression and these issues, then you feel like you’re going through it by yourself. Sometimes you feel like there’s no place to turn. ‘Nobody can understand what I’m going through so I’m going to end it all.’ Especially for athletes, who are very prideful individuals.”
As terrible as this news is and how quickly similarities can be drawn there will be a time and place for specifics on Junior Seau. The only thing anyone of us can do is find a “silver lining” and make something positive about this. I choose to believe at this point in time that discussing the fact that people should be seeking help, because there is, for what ever ails them. Remember this is not exclusive to football either, something missed in the media coverage. Last summer there were NHL’ers that were found dead, with high probability it was at their own hands too.
I battle depression, DAILY; most times it just takes a smile from one of my three kids or the words “I love you” from my wonderful wife to make me “right the ship”. However there are dark times even within my wonderful life and it’s NOT EASY. I can truly say without a doubt that had I not sought help I would not be here today. (Now that I have alienated about 30% of my readers with this overt admission due to the stigma of depression).
Depression is nothing to be ashamed of; hiding it and feeling as though you are somehow weaker because of it is FLATLY FALSE. I have become a stronger individual, and this blog was created in spite of depression. There are many positives that can come from seemingly terrible news.
The above comments serve to further support the importance of thoroughly assessing and monitoring an athlete’s emotional status…after suffering a concussion.
Frontal lobes are tied to emotions and cognitions…if a ‘component’ that adversely effects cognitions can be damaged, so may a component that adversely effects emotions.
“Now that I have alienated about 30% of my readers …”
It’s important for people to discuss depression, and I certainly hope 30% of your readers aren’t alienated by your admission.
I know I sound like a broken record, but again, it’s past time to make changes to youth sports.
“Normally, speculation as to causation would be premature, but these are not normal times. The spectre of head injury and the disastrous lifetime ramifications call for emphatic action. There is a largely undiagnosed health epidemic which has surrounded contact sports at the youth sports, high school, collegiate and professional level and it is a ticking time bomb. For many years a veil of denial has obscured the reality of what the long term impact of multiple concussions portend.”
In the words of Keith Primeau –
“”And that’s why it’s important that we send the message, deliver the message, that real courage is having the ability to speak up and say that I don’t feel well.””
Click to access adolescent_bi_guide_x.pdf
Understanding Brain Injury in Adolescence – a guide for parents, coaches, educators and those that work with youth