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Kyle Turley admits suicidal thoughts, fears brain damage

TurleyHelmetTossAP AP

Former NFL offensive lineman Kyle Turley admits that he’s scared.

That’s why he takes medication he hopes staves off degenerative brain damage, and why he called a league-sponsored help line when he considered suicide.

Turley, in an in-depth story with Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego, thinks both stem from a career in the NFL which included two diagnosed concussions but what he thinks are many more undiagnosed ones.

“I’ve got young kids,” Turley said. “It’s scary as hell. It keeps me up at night. It’s something that weighs on me heavily.”

Turley, who is one of more than 4,000 former players involved in a concussion lawsuit against the NFL, said he suffers bouts of vertigo and light sensitivity. He said his grandfather suffered from ALS, but that there was no other family history that involved brain disease, or pointed to suicidal thoughts.

“No one in my family has ever gone crazy and killed themselves or thought about that,” Turley said. “I have. It’s not a thought that is fleeting. It’s a thought that goes away when I’m on my medication, and the thought of doing a lot of crazy things as well and making unbelievable decisions.”

Turley has a 2-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son, and he said he wants to do anything he can to make the game safer if his son wants to follow in his footsteps.

“I’ve got as good of a chance as anybody of going down that road into Crazy Land or into Super Crazy Disease Land,” Turley said. “I’ve got every opportunity to probably be in the same boat in the future, and I don’t know how far in the future. It’s very, very disturbing, very frustrating, very stressful to deal with, especially having kids.”

Those children were on his mind when he called the NFL Life Line, a 24-hour counseling hotline set up by the league after Junior Seau’s death last year.

“It was imperative that I did,” Turley said. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just a moment where you’re lost. You’re completely gone. You don’t understand the things that you’re doing, you’re pissed at yourself because you’re doing the things that you’re doing, and you have little control, it seems, over it.

“Even in the moment, you’re saying, ‘Why is this happening? What is going on?’ But you’re still in it. It’s a weird thing. I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s frustrating to no end, and that frustration can lead you to some pretty low places. Only those who have gotten to the point where they picked up a phone can probably understand.”

He can’t help but think about Seau at such times, and the fact that the support system that stemmed from the former Chargers linebacker’s death might have saved his own life.

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38 Responses to “Kyle Turley admits suicidal thoughts, fears brain damage”
  1. daysend564 says: May 1, 2013 3:34 PM

    Nothing to do with all the PEDs he took while in the NFL nor the medicine he’s taking now.
    ——–
    To make sure you can safely take Depakote, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
    a history of head injury, brain disorder, or coma;

    Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, depression, anxiety, or if you feel agitated, hostile, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

  2. green41563 says: May 1, 2013 3:37 PM

    Well, let’s be frank: Kyle Turley wasn’t exactly the picture of mental stability *before* he set foot in the NFL.

    Guy’s been crazy for a long, long time.

  3. onebucplace says: May 1, 2013 3:37 PM

    Translation… pay me

  4. dmartin17 says: May 1, 2013 3:37 PM

    1000s of people deal with depression every day in america. Do we blame concussions for them too?

  5. asimonetti88 says: May 1, 2013 3:38 PM

    Turley seemed unstable to begin with.

  6. tlmoon2112 says: May 1, 2013 3:39 PM

    Was he suicidal before or after he heaved his helmet half way across the field when he played for the Saints?

  7. thehatefulnerd says: May 1, 2013 3:40 PM

    Dude was always a few bricks shy of a load. He should sue his mom.

    His biggest obstacle in court will be showing he’s somehow different now.

  8. kh221 says: May 1, 2013 3:40 PM

    He’ll probably live to 100.

  9. jrock3x8 says: May 1, 2013 3:41 PM

    yah this guy didn’t have all his marbles to begin with…

  10. sweded775 says: May 1, 2013 3:42 PM

    My dad took some meds once and he said the same thing it freaked him out terribbly, he was haveing suicidal thoughts and didn’t know why he was feeling that way, it took over for a few hours and he couldn’t understand why he was even thinking like that or why he felt so helpless and out of control, i didn’t know what to do so i hugged him till he cooled down, but the doctor said it was the meds.

  11. saintsfan34 says: May 1, 2013 3:45 PM

    He didnt toss his helmet. He tosses the Jets player’s helmet. He protected his QB.

  12. j0esixpack says: May 1, 2013 3:46 PM

    Just the fact that Turley will talk about it publicly will save lives.

    The fact that he’s man enough to talk about this in public will likely save lives of other football players and others in the public who have been convinced by our culture that asking for help is a sign of weakness rather than strength.

    The NFL and society in general have worked hard to battle problems like Drunk Driving – and NFL players even wear pink to focus attention against breast cancer.

    Well, 3x as many people die by suicide each year than in drunk driving accidents. More soldiers now die by their own hand than in combat. Nearly as many lives are lost to suicide as to breast cancer each year.

    It’s about time the NFL and the rest of society put aside the stigma of mental illness and gave the same amount of attention to Mental Health that they do to Breast Cancer and Drunk Driving.

  13. onebucplace says: May 1, 2013 3:48 PM

    BTW, my dad had some suicidal thoughts after returning from Vietnam. He didn’t go complaining to the media or try to sue anyone, he took care of the problem and blew his head off with a shotgun. No concussion money in my family. True story.

  14. nyhealingpoints says: May 1, 2013 3:55 PM

    You fans who deny a link or assume some sort of alternative motive to what these players go through, you’re just clueless. It’s amazing what people will deny when it doesnt suit thier lifestyles or comfort level. And it’s truly lame to judge another human being when you really don’t know what you’re taking about. There is science here, and enough evidence to work on. So stop trying to pretend you’re tough. You’re just closed up and stiff and its why woman don’t like you.

  15. indychiefsfan says: May 1, 2013 3:56 PM

    Wow…thats alot of haters. We love these men when they are playing the game but when they are done with the game we are done with them. But of course if any of you had the chance to file suit against something you thought could have been harmful you wouldn’t huh? 3,000 former players looking for a quick payday I suppose.

  16. rcali says: May 1, 2013 3:56 PM

    Coal Miners everywhere are crying for these NFL players.

  17. seanx40 says: May 1, 2013 4:00 PM

    I am amazed at how cold(at best…)the people here are about the long term effects of head injuries. I would imagine that not one of them every put on pads. The effects are clearly real. Players are dying from the damage. Either decades earlier than they should the side effects, or the rash of suicides.

    I have somewhat of a vested interest in the long term study, as I played in high school and college. I know I suffered an awful lot of concusions over that time. There are times when I wonder if things like memory loss, or depressive episodes are a normal part of aging(I am in my mid-40s), or a long term result of those injuries.

    That said, knowing what I know now, I still would have played. I think almost every player would. That said, the NFL clearly knew about this issue decades ago. And at BEST, did very little. More likely, they covered up the true nature. The NFL has a responsibility to its former players to provide long term care.

  18. tndiver says: May 1, 2013 4:00 PM

    I am just glad for his family’s sake he made the call. Suicide is not something to take lightly. Hopefully it will encourage others to do the same.

  19. 90210g says: May 1, 2013 4:01 PM

    Who told him to play football? Everyone knows the risks of playing ball! It’s getting old that many former players are suddenly experiencing some sort of brain damage just to be part of a law suit! Should we former college players also start suing the NCAA for the same medical experiences that these retired players are having? This is why they are killing America’s game!

  20. leatherhelmets says: May 1, 2013 4:05 PM

    Same denial by same folks.
    Repeated collisions scramble the brain.

    They have to change the helmet, or take it away.

  21. fdugrad says: May 1, 2013 4:06 PM

    I am a public school teacher of forty years. Kyle mentioned that he has young children. He needs to know that kids left behind by a parent who has committed suicide are held captive of a curse that keeps giving. They are FAR more likely to become suicide victims themselves, than kids whose parents die from other causes. They are permanently impacted and see suicide as a way out of personal problems. I have worked with several children over the years, who were living daily with this terrible burden. It is an extremely sad and daunting thing to witness, and NO parent should EVER place this burden on their child. In the end, it is a selfish choice. Once an adult opts to become a parent, suicide is simply NOT a choice. I truly hope Kyle is seeing a competent mental health professional.

  22. prmpft says: May 1, 2013 4:09 PM

    why would he not if there’s a decent chance he will get PAID

  23. johnnyb216 says: May 1, 2013 4:10 PM

    Maybe I’m a bad person for thinking this, but part of me wonders if former players are just saying things like this just to make their lawsuit look better. Then I remember What happened to Junior Seau and it really makes me wonder…

  24. gbmickey says: May 1, 2013 4:15 PM

    Really it takes the NFL to say concussions are harmful? Common sense tells that it is trauma to the brain and can cause long term effects. As with the players playing now they know the risks and continue to play as did the players from years ago.

  25. questforthesixthnotthelast2013 says: May 1, 2013 4:21 PM

    You got to live the dream, I got to go in the navy, I’ve banged my head many times, I’ve done alot to my brain, I’ve got two girls, and still I took a bottle of pills and drove to the woods, I’m glad I woke up, I’d hate to leave my kids that way, IMA be a Drooler in my golden years but least my kids will be there to wipe it up.
    Wake up man, there are people in the world way worse off than yourself, man up, life is a rollercoaster.
    Good luck, please don’t make me read your suicide story!

  26. onebucplace says: May 1, 2013 4:28 PM

    fdugrad says:
    May 1, 2013 4:06 PM
    I am a public school teacher of forty years. Kyle mentioned that he has young children. He needs to know that kids left behind by a parent who has committed suicide are held captive of a curse that keeps giving. They are FAR more likely to become suicide victims themselves, than kids whose parents die from other causes. They are permanently impacted and see suicide as a way out of personal problems.

    ———————–

    My dad killed himself when I was 3 and every single thing you wrote above is false and nothing I have ever experienced.

  27. sdakota says: May 1, 2013 4:28 PM

    the sad part is distinguishing people with real head problems and the guys just out for the easy buck. plus you must consider a lot of retired athletes never get use to the fact they are not a star anymore and piss away their money, which can probably put you into deep depression.

  28. prmpft says: May 1, 2013 4:37 PM

    the money should come from the guys that held the guns to these folks’ heads when they signed their contracts – I really believe it is that simple…

  29. mazblast says: May 1, 2013 4:37 PM

    asimonetti88 says: May 1, 2013 3:38 PM

    Turley seemed unstable to begin with.
    ————————————
    Not “seemed”. Was.

    I’m still rooting for the guy. Good player, sometimes overly passionate. And no kids deserve to be without a parent.

    Turley did the sensible thing (which in itself is uncharacteristic behavior for him) when he made the call. The fact that he thought it over is a positive.
    —————————————–
    fdugrad says:

    Once an adult opts to become a parent, suicide is simply NOT a choice.
    —————————————–
    Yes, it is a choice, just a remarkably awful one, especially for the kids.

  30. somekat says: May 1, 2013 4:38 PM

    I dont’ get the “the effects are real, take care of them, pay them for life” blah blah blah

    Did we have the medical knowledge 20 years ago we do today? No. Did people think there would be no ill effects of taking shots to the head for a living? NO!!!! The phrase “too many shots to the head” didn’t start 5 years ago.

    I’ll give you the OLD guys, guys that were int NFL 30+ years ago, they weren’t paid like they are now. But these days, minimum guys walk away with hundereds of thousands of dollars a year. Why do they get paid that much? 2 reasons, 1, because they produce enough revenue to justify it. 2, because there are inherint health risks

    This is no different than 50 years smokers wanting to sue tobacco companies, or fat people wanting to sue McDonalds. It’s just another shot in the “it’s everyone’s fault but mine” mentality that this country now has

  31. edrouse says: May 1, 2013 4:41 PM

    REALLY LIKE THESE PLAYERS DIDN”T KNOW FOOTBALL IS A DANGEROUS SPORT …THATS WHY THEY MAKE ALL THE MONEY ..DO NOT BLAME THE NFL THEY CHOSE TO PLAY …

  32. phinfan says: May 1, 2013 4:55 PM

    Good football player… even better Musician!

  33. myeaglescantwin says: May 1, 2013 4:55 PM

    Yeah..
    how long till steroid abuse is linked to all of these cases on early onset dementia and mental illness.

    These players act like they had no cause to the current state of their bodies.

    You get paid so much cause your body is at risk.
    these post career lawsuits are ridiculous.

    especially from a hot head like turley ..

  34. GenXJay says: May 1, 2013 9:48 PM

    If, as a fan attending live games, I gained too much weight from the concession stand & eventually had a heart attack; do I get royalty compensated for pain & suffering & hospital bills if I survive?

  35. liltex46 says: May 1, 2013 10:16 PM

    No one forced these players to play in the nfl…be a man blame the man in the mirror

  36. kgb108 says: May 1, 2013 11:53 PM

    He might want to get checked out for exposure to neurotoxins, whether it be from some kind of environmental exposure or a bacteria. It’s just one possibility but worth checking into. Get a simple VCS(visual contrast sensitivity test) my friend. Also as your dr about a glutathione nasal spray.

  37. saints4life57 says: May 3, 2013 9:18 AM

    Chaaaaa Ching! Pay the man! So he went from wanting to kill other people on the field to wanting to kill himself off the field! On a serious note I hope the guy takes care of himself and gets the help he needs! Never want to see anyone bring harm to themselves or to others! GL Kyle on getting better and wish you the best of luck on the rest of your life!

  38. saints4life57 says: May 3, 2013 9:24 AM

    Man you people on here are harsh! You act like you want to see the guy hurt himself or something! I agree with the fact that most of these players knew what they were getting into but at the same time if they really need the help and aren’t getting it or being lied to I can understand why there would be a problem! Just saying!

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