Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins before driving to the chief’s practice facility where he killed himself in front of the head coach and general manager in the parking lot. The tragic incident might be a result of traumatic brain injury, since friends and coaches report that he was an unbelievable role model before the incident. According to Daily News, other NFL players are reaching out to the PAST program to get help with their injuries and avoid suicidal thoughts.
Many studies have revealed that traumatic brain injury can lead to behavioral changes, personality changes, emotional and social problems, inability to control anger, and impulsiveness. Suicidal thoughts are also common with TBI, and rates increase between two and three-fold after injury. William Focazio, the New Jersey physician who founded PAST, explains that TBI can cause anger, rage, depression and mood swings: “There is no question that head trauma causes the symptoms we see in these guys.”
Two of Belcher’s former coaches commented on how much of a role model he was for fellow players. His former University of Maine football coach explained how he is “hard-pressed to find or recall a young man who had more of an impact in a positive way on his teammates and his football family.”
Although the cause of Belcher’s sudden change remains unclear, TBI is suspected to have caused the shift in the NFL player. TBI can impair the brain’s ability to make moral choices, and many NFL players are reaching out to Pain Alternatives, Solutions and Treatments (PAST) in order to learn how to deal with their injury and avoid a potential tragedy.
NFL PAST Program
For almost a year, Former NY Jets quarterback Ray Lucas has been working with the PAST program, which is a holistic way for NFL players who suffer from TBIs to manage their pain and depression. The regiment includes high doses of omega 3s and other supplements, along with exercise, dietary changes, hormone therapy, counseling and other treatments. Lucas explains that he feels healthier than he has in a long time, but he admits that he had contemplated suicide before he received help from PAST.
In September, the NFL announced that it would donate $30 million to help fund TBI research. Focazio, however, states that more needs to be done for the men that helped turn the league into a $9 billion a year global industry: “It’s OK to do research but at some point you need to apply what you know to people who need help.”