Ryan Freel Apparent Suicide May be Linked to Concussions
Now, it’s not only football and hockey players who commit suicide after suffering concussions — and permanent brain damage — during their careers. Add professional baseball players to the list.
Ryan Freel, an MLB player who had to end his career after he sustained a number of head injuries, apparently killed himself with a shotgun on Saturday, according to The New York Times. Freel’s body was found in Jacksonsville, Fla. He was only 36.
Freel spent most of his career playing for the Cincinnati Reds, and his daring, aggressive playing style, unfortunately, led to him having what he claimed were 10 concussions, according to The Times. For example, Freel would run into walls and tumble into seats to catch a ball, injuring his head.
Freel suffered a particularly nasty concussion in 2007, when he crashed into Norris Hopper. Freel was transported off the field in an ambulance and had headaches and memory loss because of his concussion, The Times reported. He was benched for 30 days as a result of that injury.
According to The Times, Freel had another bad concussion when he was hit with a ball in 2009. After his baseball career ended, Freel faced charges twice related to alcohol and being drunk.
Freel’s history of repeated head injuries is very similar to the history of a group of former NFL and NHL players who committed suicide in recent years, including former Chicago Bears Dave Duerson. An examination of tissue from these men’s brains determined that they had a degenerative disease that has symptoms similar to dementia — such as depression, mood swings and memory loss.
One can’t help but assume that similar brain injuries led to Freel taking own life. His family would be doing a service if they allowed scientists to study his brain to confirm if in fact he had brain damage.