High school and college football have been around for a long time (since the late 19th century in fact). Even for those who don’t play or attend games, images of Friday night football with pep rallies, cheerleaders, and marching bands brightly lit by towering spotlights are ingrained in the American psyche through movies and television. Yet there is increasing evidence to support that concussions sustained while playing this favorite all-American sport may actually be linked to suicide.
FOOTBALL, CONCUSSIONS, AND SUICIDE
Last November, the body of 22-year-old Kosta Karageorge, a defensive tackle on the Ohio State University football team was found in a dumpster, an apparent suicide. Reported missing by his family during the holiday weekend, Karageorge sent a text to his mother four days before his body was found. In the text Karageorge apologized for being an “embarrassment” and stated that his mind was messed up from concussions. According to his mother he suffered several concussions while playing football and subsequently struggled with extreme confusion.
Earlier in the year, a spotlight was shown on sports-related head injuries when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) set up a $70 million fund to test thousands of current and former college athletes for significant long-term neurological damage incurred while participating in contact sports.
PARENTS AND FOOTBALL: SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER
Although Karageorge was playing college football, according to a 2013 NFL-funded study, concussions are twice as likely for high school athletes as they are for college athletes – an important fact to consider when deciding whether or not to allow your child to play football.
Also important to note, the NCAA has reported that football players are three times more likely to suffer from the dementia-like chronictraumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can cause disorientation, depression, and suicidal thoughts. They also found that under-reporting of concussions is more prevalent in football due to all the down time between plays, which allows the initial symptoms of a concussion to die down.
CONCUSSIONS AND DEPRESSION
Although little is known about CTE and it is difficult to diagnose, there is little doubt about the connection between concussions and depression. A recent study conducted by the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington and the Seattle Children’s Hospital, Center for Child Health Behavior and Development found that adolescents that have suffered a concussion have a 3.3-fold greater risk of depression than those who have not sustained a concussion.
Another study published in 2005 in Clinics and Sports Medicine analyzed the data of 71 athletes that had either committed or considered committing suicide in the preceding decades. Almost half of them were football players.
When it comes down to it, each player, and parent of a potential player, has to ask the question: is it worth it? As a parent, the best thing you can do is make sure your child is educated about the true risks of the game. If your child does play, make sure they know the signs and symptoms of concussions so they can get the right treatment.
SYMPTOMS OF A CONCUSSION
Temporary loss of consciousness
Nausea or vomiting
Loss of memory
If you or a member of your family has suffered a brain injury as a result of a sports injury, contact Meshbesher & Spence immediately to discuss the details of your case. Our attorneys are here to ensure that you receive the medical care and rehabilitation treatments you deserve.