Former Chicago Bear safety Dave Duerson committed suicide last week, but in giving up his life, he will potentially save others from making the same decision in the future.
Duerson, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, left behind a suicide note. In the note, he asked that his brain be donated to science, specifically to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine.
The Center is one of the leading institutions studying the ways brain damage—such as the kind suffered by Duerson and many others during a NFL playing career—can be a precursor to health problems later in life. One theory is that the brain damage incurred on the football field can lead to depression. So by studying Duerson's brain, researchers might be able to tie football-related brain injuries to depression, the type of depression that led Duerson and others, like former Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Andre Waters, to end their lives.
According to AOL Fanhouse, Chris Nowinski, a former Harvard football-player-turned-professional wrestler and current co-director of Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, said Duerson wanted his brain to be studied so that future football players could be protected from brain injuries. Nowinski told the Chicago Tribune that this was the case, and said chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a serious risk, having seen the disease in 13 of the 14 studies the Center has done on former NFL players.
Duerson's tragic fate has not been the first instance of an NFL player taking his own life after his playing days were over. But with the help of researchers like Nowinski, and greater awareness of their work being made by these tragedies, maybe Duerson can be one of the last.