19 Tragic NFL Suicides

Jeff Alm dead at 25

According to a witness, Alm and his best friend, Sean P. Lynch, had dinner at a Houston-area steakhouse on December 13, 1993. At 2:45 a.m. Central Standard Time the following day, Alm’s Cadillac lost control heading south on Interstate 610 southbound at the 59 north exit ramp and Lynch was thrown out of the car, because the convertible top was down, to his death. Alm had been speeding and lost control of his 1993 Cadillac Eldorado on a curved exit ramp. After the crash Alm ran across the ramp and looked down an embankment towards the Southwest Freeway, discovering that his boyhood friend had been thrown to his death 30 feet below. Apparently distraught by his best friend’s death, Alm took out a pistol grip shotgun, fired two shots into the air and then shot himself in the head.

Toxicology reports have stated that Alm had a blood alcohol-level of .14, over the .10 legal limit. Lynch’s blood-alcohol level was .30. Alm was also taking the prescription barbiturate, Fiorinal, commonly prescribed for Tension Headache. According to the report by the Chief Medical Examiner for Harris County, the barbiturate level was within therapeutic range.

Jeff Alm
Jeff Alm

Jovan Belcher dead at 25

Belcher was living with his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins and their three-month-old baby Zoey at 5401 Crysler Avenue in Kansas City. Belcher and Perkins had been introduced through Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, whose wife was a first cousin of Perkins. Perkins had also done volunteer work in the community and with the Chiefs as part of its Women’s Organization, a group of players’ wives and significant others who do charity work and run awareness campaigns. Friends said the couple argued frequently, including after Perkins returned at 1 a.m. from a Trey Songz concert at the Midland Theatre on the night of November 30. After the argument, Perkins went to the Power and Light District, an entertainment area by the Midland and Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City. Belcher was also in the Power and Light District with a different woman. After losing the woman in the crowd, Belcher drove to her apartment, but she was not home. Police found him there at 2:50 a.m. after receiving a 911 call about a suspicious person in a car parked on Armour Boulevard. He told police he was waiting for his girlfriend and forgot the code to her apartment. The police discussed the temporary tags on the car and urged him to go inside the building, saying they were “trying to cut [him] a break here.” Belcher did not smell of alcohol and was not slurring his words, police said. He was later buzzed into the building by neighbors and allowed to stay the night.

Belcher returned home between 6:30 and 7 a.m., argued again with Perkins and shot and murdered her in front of his mother, Cheryl Shepherd. Police arrived at the house at around 7:50 a.m. following a call from Shepherd, who had recently moved there from West Babylon, New York to help the couple care for Zoey. The baby was heard crying in the background when Belcher’s mother called. Perkins, who was 22, had been shot a total of 9 times in the neck, chest, abdomen, hip, back, leg and hand.

After murdering Perkins, Belcher drove his Bentley about five miles to a parking lot at the Chiefs’ practice facility next to Arrowhead Stadium. He stepped out of the car with a gun to his head when he encountered Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli. Belcher told Pioli he murdered his girlfriend and thanked him before asking for Pioli and Chiefs owner Clark Hunt to take care of his daughter. Pioli tried to persuade Belcher to drop the gun. Then Chiefs Head Coach Romeo Crennel and linebackers coach Gary Gibbs arrived and joined the effort. Police had been dispatched to the scene at 8:01 a.m. As the sound of sirens approached, Belcher told the men he had to kill himself and “can’t be here.” He knelt down by a car, made a sign of the cross and shot himself in the head. A photograph from the scene showed Perkins’ blood smeared over the chrome gearshift of Belcher’s black 2007 Bentley Continental GT as well as broken glass on the dashboard.

On January 14, 2013, the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s office released autopsy reports showing Belcher had 170 mg/dL of alcohol in his system, double the legal limit in Missouri.

Larry Bethea dead at 30

In 1986, he was jailed on charges of assaulting his wife and stealing his mother’s life savings of $64,000. In 1987, he was given a suspended four-year prison term for stealing. The judge also ordered Bethea to serve two years on probation while repaying the money.

On April 24, 1987, police were called by an unidentified source who said the former football player had robbed two convenience stores. Bethea, 30, was later found in a friend’s backyard with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his right temple and a .38-caliber automatic pistol near his body. He was taken to Hampton General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:08 a.m. The gun used in the shooting and the two robberies was believed to be a weapon that was reported stolen from a parked vehicle in the city.

Larry Bethea
Larry Bethea

Kurt Crain dead at 47

Died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Spanish Fort, Alabama on April 10, 2012.

Mike Current dead at 66

On Monday January 16, 2012, Current died after committing suicide by shooting himself in the head with a 20 gauge shotgun at the scenic outlook at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge near Dallas, Oregon. Current was accused of sexually assaulting three victims, two girls and one boy all 14 or younger, at least five times between 2004 and 2010 in Marion County, Oregon. He allegedly used pornography, such as videos and photos, to elicit sex from the children.

On Tuesday January 17, 2012, Current was set to enter a plea on the charges. He faced a minimum of six years and three months for each of the five sex-abuse charges, a total of more than 30 years without parole, and no chance at reduced time. The Silverton Police Department had been looking into Current since June 17 and were investigating the possibility of other victims. Tara Lawrence, the attorney for the vicitms, indicated that she would be pursuing justice through the civil courts since Current’s suicide did not allow the victims to get their day in court. “Our hope is that with Current’s death, any additional victims may feel empowered to break their silence and speak out about their own abuse,” Lawrence said.

Shane Dronett dead at 38

In 2006, Dronett began to exhibit paranoia, confusion, fear, and rage. According to his family, Dronett’s behavior changed radically. He was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor in 2007. Its removal did not alleviate Dronett’s symptoms. Dronett confronted his wife with a gun on January 21, 2009. As she ran for safety, he turned the gun on himself. His death was ruled a suicide by the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s office.

After his death, Dronett’s brain was tested at Boston University School of Medicine’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. Scientists determined that Dronett suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease associated with repeated head trauma. According to the co-director of the Center, Dr. Robert Stern, linemen are estimated to hit their heads about 1,000 times in each season they play. While those hits may not result in concussions, the repetitive lesser brain injuries are likely associated with the disease.

Dave Duerson dead at 50

Duerson was found dead at his Sunny Isles Beach, Florida home on February 17, 2011. The Miami-Dade County medical examiner reported that Duerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He sent a text message to his family saying he wanted his brain to be used for research at the Boston University School of Medicine, which is conducting research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease, which can be caused by playing professional football. He left behind three sons and a daughter from his marriage to ex-wife Alicia Duerson.

On May 2, 2011, neurologists at Boston University confirmed that he suffered from CTE, which is linked to concussions.

Jim Duncan dead at 26

On October 21, 1972, Duncan walked into a police station in his hometown of Lancaster. Police officials said that he grabbed a pistol from one of the officers and shot himself in the head.

Ray Easterling dead at 62

It is believed that Easterling shot himself due to clinical depression resulting from dementia “as he lost the ability to focus, organise his thoughts and relate to people”, with the dementia itself the result of the lifetime of head injuries during Easterling’s career. On July 27, 2012 Easterling’s autopsy report was released. The autopsy by the medical examiner in Richmond, VA found signs “consistent with the findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy” (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease that can be caused by concussions and has been linked to multiple blows to the head. The examiner determined that it was the underlying major condition that accounted for Easterling’s difficulties.

Terry Long dead at 45

He died in 2005 from drinking antifreeze. Doctors studied his brain later and believe that brain damage from his football career contributed to his depression and later suicide. He had previously attempted suicide in 1991, after testing positive for the NFL’s steroid test.

Kenny McKinley dead at 23

McKinley was found dead on September 20, 2010, from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. His death was reported as a suicide by local media, and later confirmed by members of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s office.

A 131-page report was released by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department on December 1, 2010, concluding the investigation into McKinley’s death. It stated that depression over debt, injury and his post-playing career were the main factors for his suicide. The report stated that McKinley had a gambling problem and was deep in debt.

O.J. Murdock dead at 25

Tampa police said Murdock drove into the parking lot of Middleton High School, his alma mater, on July 30, 2012 and shot himself in the head.

Kenny McKinleyO.J. Murdock were room mates in college.

Paul Oliver dead at 29

Oliver committed suicide by self-inflicted gunshot on September 24, 2013. Police on the incident state that Oliver shot himself in front of his wife and his two young boys. It was later determined through analysis of Oliver’s brain that he suffered from an advanced form of Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, caused by repeated concussions he endured during his football playing career.

Adrian Robinson dead at 25

Robinson died on May 16, 2015. The medical examiner later ruled his death as a suicide by hanging. On Oct. 14, 2015, Robinson’s family announced that a diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was confirmed through officials at the Concussion Legacy Foundation at Boston University.

Junior Seau dead at 43

On May 2, 2012, Seau’s girlfriend found him dead with a gunshot wound to the chest at his home in Oceanside. He left no suicide note, but he did leave a paper in the kitchen of his home with lyrics he scribbled from his favorite country song, “Who I Ain’t”. The song describes a man who regrets the person he has become. On January 10, 2013, Seau’s family released findings that his brain showed definitive signs of CTE.

Junior Seau
Junior Seau

Steve Stonebreaker dead at 56

Stonebreaker committed suicide on March 28, 1995 by subjecting himself to carbon monoxide poisoning from a car exhaust.

Jim Tyrer dead at 41

On September 15, 1980 Tyrer, the father of four, shot his wife and then committed suicide by turning the gun on himself.

Andre Waters dead at 44

Waters committed suicide shortly after 1 a.m. on November 20, 2006, dying of a gunshot to the head. Waters’ brain tissue had degenerated into that of an 85-year-old man with similar characteristics to those of early-stage Alzheimer’s victims that is named chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Mike Wise dead at 28

He committed suicide with a gun at his home on August 21, 1992.