The late Jovan Belcher’s life ended tragically at age 25 a little more than a year ago after he shot himself just minutes after shooting and killing his 22-year-old girlfriend. Belcher’s family apparently believes that the athlete exhibited signs of neuropsychiatric and cognitive impairment prior to the murder-suicide. According to a wrongful death lawsuit recently brought by Belcher’s mother, those signs should have been addressed by her son’s team, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Ever since the deaths of several former football players and the apparent trauma-related illnesses of others, many people have accused the National Football League of negligence for its failure to warn athletes about the risks of such injuries, which seem tied to concussions that are common in contact sports.

Belcher’s mother’s lawsuit against the Chiefs claims that the NFL team failed to provide Belcher with adequate medical care beginning with his first apparent concussion with the team in 2009. To bolster the case against the Chiefs, Belcher’s family has had his body exhumed from his grave in New York State so his brain could be examined to determine if he was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Belcher’s family believes that the strange behavior he showed before the murder-suicide resulted from CTE, a progressive degenerative disease that apparently derives from repeated blows to the head. Memory loss, impaired judgment, confusion, progressive dementia and impulse-control problems are some of its symptoms.

Brain injury is so serious that it not only can cause severe pain but also affect behavior and memory. Although numerous studies are underway to determine the connection of brain injuries with various sports, any person exhibiting symptoms should receive medical treatment as soon as possible.

Source: Medical Daily, “Jovan Belcher’s Mother Files Wrongful Death Suit: Did ‘Repetitive Head Trauma’ Cause NFL Linebacker’s Suicide?” Nadia-Elysse Harris, Jan. 2, 2014