UPDATE, MAY 4, 8:03 A.M.: If San Diego Chargers great Junior Seau suffered from a brain injury that contributed to his suicide, he could have been saved, according to a Newport Beach psychiatrist who has conducted three clinical studies with 115 active and former NFL players.
And Dr. Daniel G. Amen has advice for young players that could help them avoid a similar fate.
"Junior Seau was a legend. But even legends cannot escape the ravages of chronic brain damage," Amen says in a statement from his Newport Beach-based Amen Clinics.
The lead researcher on three published studies on NFL players and brain damage claims "there's help from chronic traumatic brain injuries, depression, irritability and memory problems" suffered by football players and others who play contact sports where concussions are common. He has worked with everyone from former USC running back Anthony Davis to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback-turned-Fox Sports commentator Terry Bradshaw.
"My message to the football community is that players need to get their brains examined before they play and after they stop and at any time they get a concussion," Amen says. "I often say how do you know unless you look."
Seau's family has agreed to donate the hard-hitting linebacker's brain to science.
An autopsy confirmed his death was the result of suicide, according to the coroner.
UPDATE, MAY 2, 12:57 P.M.: Oceanside Police Chief Frank McCoy just told the media Junior Seau's girlfriend returned to the retired NFL linebacker's home this morning and found him with a gunshot wound.
She tried to perform CPR before calling police, McCoy said, and a handgun was found next to the former San Diego Chargers.
The 43-year-old's mother, Luisa Mauga Seau, also spoke to reporters in front of the home, thanking them for "showing love to my son." Breaking down several times, she mentioned that she also lost her husband and asked God, "Please, please take me, not my son."
The football star's sister, Annette, then asked for privacy on behalf of her family.
"I know the media, I'm sorry media, I know you guys, I know you guys will overblow this," she said. "My brother was a loving brother, a caring citizen, so I'd appreciate it if you guys would please honor his last day and give us some kind of peace."
The Chargers issued the following statement:
Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they're doing and send prayers to Junior and his family.
ORIGINAL POST, MAY 2, 12:29 P.M.: Junior Seau, a stud linebacker who played 19 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and, in his prime, the San Diego Chargers, is dead from a reported suicide.
A housekeeper found the 43-year-old this morning dead from a single gunshot wound to his chest in his Oceanside home, according to multiple media reports.
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Some are speculating that the 12-time Pro Bowler--whose monster hits lived up to the way his Samoan name sounds (Say OW!)--suffered from the same head trauma issues that have befallen other former NFL players.
Among that sad list is former Chicago Bears great Dave Duerson, who committed suicide much the same way in February 2011 so his brain would be preserved for researchers. Bears quarterback Jim McMahon was recently featured in an ESPN piece about his dealing with the same lingering injuries.
San Diego County coroners are apparently among those investigating this hour at Seau's home on the Oceanside Strand.