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Dave Duerson: Former Chicago Bears Safety One Of Many In Ongoing Battle

Dave Duerson's story hits home for me. Too close, in fact.

The former Pro Bowl safety for the Chicago Bears committed suicide last Thursday when he shot himself in the chest. Prior to that, there are reports that he texted his family and asked that his brain be examined for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease that's been linked to depression, depression and dementia.

I've scanned through most stories and found few with comments from his family members, former teammates or coaches. I know they're all probably in shock, have tons of questions and are going through indescribable grief. I know, because I've been there. It was just over a year ago I lost my younger brother and best friend to suicide.

As time has passed, I've come to realize the enormity of this battle people face with mental illness. I get frustrated and upset that it's such a taboo topic, yet people are open about other issues such as alcoholism, sex addiction or drug addiction.

The numbers are staggering: There are 5.7 million American adults, age 18 and older, who are bipolar; In 2006, approximately 33,300 people died from suicide in the United States and approximately 2.4 million adults suffer from schizophrenia.

I wish Duerson didn't have to be another victim in this ongoing battle, but I'm encouraged that he asked for his brain to be studied. I also hope this serves as a wake-up call for the NFL to provide current and former players with means in which to address these struggles. It is a macho, testosterone-fueled league, and I know it takes a lot of courage to come forward and admit this is a problem.

I also know there are tremendous counselors out there and medicine available to help people.

I wish I didn't have to write about stories like these, but sports isn't always sunshine and lollipops. Duerson's story takes me back to where I was just 16 months ago. I'm thankful for my faith and my church, which wasn't afraid to discuss suicide. The healing process is still continuing.

But Duerson's story just leaves me sad. It brings back tons of memories and reminds me this battle is far from over.

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