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Rival Report 5/11: CDC Study says suicide rate for NFL players less than men in general public

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Alex Brandon, AP

For years many people have wondered if former NFL players were at an increased risk of suicide. A new Government study performed by the CDC with research on over 3,000 former NFL players was wondering about it too. However, they found that the suicide rate among former players in their study group is actually lower than that of men in the general population.

The study states that they found 12 suicides among former players among the 3,439 people in their research group between the years of 1979 and 2013. In contrast, the data suggests that the general population's rate for a group of men with comparable age would have been 25. The study also says that the NFL players actually lived longer lives on average and were less likely to die from Cancer, violence, or accidents.

It wasn't all good news for the NFL in the study though, they also found that the players were more likely to die from Alzheimer's Disease and other brain ailments. Also, the study does not resolve the specific question of whether the suicide rate is higher among the players afflicted with brain ailments connected to repeated concussions and the study also states it might not apply to all players.

There also are always problems with comparing a specific group of people with known problems and issues to quantify against a completely general group of people. Comparing situations specifically would bring a much more realistic look at these numbers. Accounting for factors like crime, abuse, or economic factors would clarify the reasoning behind these suicides much better than just a general overview.

Still, these numbers are a surprise to many and will be very valuable to the NFL in regards to their dilemma of retired players suing them. Taken at face value they provide a larger counterpoint to the dangers facing retired players. For some people whose goal is to minimize the troubles of retired players (and in doing so minimize their culpability in those issues) this study must be music to their ears.

Government research shows ex-NFL players have lower suicide rate than men in general population - ESPN
Government research shows suicide rates among ex-NFL players were lower than men in the general population and that former players were likely to live longer.

Suicides Rarer in Some Ex-NFL Players but Questions Remain - ABC News
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New findings on former NFL players and suicide risk - CBS News
Researchers say many assumptions about football-related head injuries and suicides are mistaken

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