Post-suicide autopsy of young college football player reveals trauma-induced brain damage
This week the family of a University of Penn junior co-captain and lineman revealed that his post-suicide autopsy had identified the early stages of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The 21 year-old player, Owen Thomas, had hung himself in his off-campus apartment after a "sudden and uncharacteristic" emotional collapse. He had never suffered a documented concussion and apparently had no history of depression, leading investigators to believe that his brain injury was the result of repeated subconcussive collisions suffered while playing football. Investigators cautioned that depression and suicide during college years are not uncommon and that Thomas' suicide was not being attributed solely to post-traumatic impulse control or depression. Nevertheless, they noted that some persons appear to be genetically wired for vulnerability to CTE, and that NFL-level trauma is not necessary to induce it. Thomas is the youngest player to-date to be diagnosed with CTE on autopsy.