Hearing the news of Junior Seau's death was surprising. To hear that it was an apparent suicide (and for the sake of this commentary, I will assume that the current reports of suicide are correct while acknowledging that they are not conclusive) was shocking. At least, it was initially. After a few moments reflection, though, I remembered that suicide is in fact much more common than
What has been the most shocking to me, however, is how quickly various commentators have jumped to the conclusion that this was ultimately a result of chronic brain injury. No doubt Junior took plenty of shots to the head. And there is no doubt that he suffered multiple concussions. But I cannot help but be appalled at the automatic connection, as though only some form of brain trauma could possibly cause such aberrant behavior.
The truth is that clinical depression and suicide are far more prevalent than anyone wants to admit or reports. It's much easier to point the finger at some unreachable assailant, instead of accepting the fact that a person may simply no longer wish to live. That concept is so foreign to anyone that is enjoying or even muddling through life that to contemplate someone as successful, popular, and loved as Seau could do it without some external cause is all but impossible. I'm here to tell you that it is not only possible but likely. Concussions are bad. Repeated brain trauma can be deadly. Neither is necessary nor sufficient to account for suicidal depression. And the fact that all of the "experts" are so ready to place the blame on concussions, instead of, oh, I don't know, considering that maybe Junior suffered from severe depression after having to retire from the one profession he's known all his life ... it's just inexcusable.
I am deeply saddened by Junior's death, whatever the cause. I am even sadder that apparently no one in the public sphere (with the possible exception of Marcellus Wiley) has even allowed for the fact clinical depression, as opposed to brain trauma, could be the cause.
You know that stupid Cymbalta commercial? "Depression hurts". It doesn't just hurt ... it kills.