Ray Easterling, former Atlanta Falcons safety, committed suicide back in April 2012. The autopsy report was officially released last week and the findings show that Easterling was suffering with a degenerative brain disease before his death. The brain disease is common to athletes that have endured frequent blows to the head.

Easterling started to deal with dementia and depression about 10 years after he retired from football. Before his death, Easterling’s behavior was characterized by terrible mood swings, forgetfulness, distraction from work, and tardiness. He even chopped off a piece of his thumb while trying to chop trees down for firewood. Finally at age 62, Easterling died in his Virginia home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The medical examiner found a moderately severe level of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a progressive degenerative brain disease found in people that endure multiple hits to the head. It was determined that this was why Easterling had so much difficulty in his day-to-day life.

Easterling’s wife, Mary Ann Easterling, spoke of how relieved she was to hear the results and how comforted she was to know the truth about her husband. Both Ray and Mary Ann Easterling did not diagnose or deal with the problems, but suspected that it had to do with head trauma.

As a result of Easterling’s death, Mary Ann Easterling is currently one of more than 3,000 plaintiffs suing the National Football League (NFL) for not properly dealing with players experiencing lasting head trauma from the sport. Philadelphia is where the federal case will be heard.

The NFL responded by offering Life Line, a mental health hotline, at no charge to current players, former players, and family members. Players and their families will now have better accessibility to seeking help and securing the appropriate treatment. Also, rule changes were made by the league to help reduce injuries in the sport as a whole.

For more information on the NFL Life Line and what it provides, call (800) 506-0078 or visit www.NFLlifeline.org.

If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury because of sports or due to the negligence of another party, contact a San Diego sport-related brain injury attorney at the Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers at (888) 233-5020 for a free assessment. Let the Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers give you the assurance you need.

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