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Aaron Hernandez Is the Most Recent Football Player to Be Diagnosed With CTE After Dying By Suicide

On Thursday, lawyers for football player Aaron Hernandez announced the former athlete, who died by suicide while serving a life sentence for murder, had stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a type of traumatic brain injury that can only be diagnosed postmortem.

Researchers at Boston University said the late 27-year-old had the worst case of CTE they had ever seen in a person his age, stating that his brain resembled that of a 67-year-old football player. Symptoms of CTE include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment and progressive dementia, with mood and behavioral symptoms appearing before cognitive difficulties. CTE has also been linked to depression, anger management difficulties and suicide.

Traumatic brain injuries are common among football players, as well as military personnel and veterans. In July, researchers at Boston University said they had discovered CTE in 110 of the 111 NFL players they examined.

Hernandez is the most recent NFL player to have been diagnosed with CTE after dying by suicide. Other professionals include Dave Duerson, Junior Seau, Andre Waters, Ray Easterling and Jovan Belcher, The New York Times reports.

Hernandez’s lawyers are now suing the NFL on behalf of Hernandez’s daughter, stating the league was “fully aware of the damage that could be inflicted from repetitive impact injuries and failed to disclose, treat or protect him from the dangers of such damage.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Jeffrey Beall