The death of former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling has been ruled a suicide, Richmond police captain Yvonne Crowder told FoxSports.com on Saturday.
Crowder told the website that Easterling died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Richmond, Va. Easterling's wife, Mary Ann, announced the news on Thursday, but declined to release the cause of his death.
After his playing days, Easterling started to suffer the consequences of the years of bruising hits, his wife said. He suffered from depression and insomnia, and as his dementia progressed, he lost the ability to focus, organize his thoughts and relate to people, she said.
"It's been a progression over the last 20 years," she said. "It's very sad to see."
"Half the time the player puts themselves back in the game, and they don't know what kind of impact it has," she said. "Somehow this has got to be stopped. It's destroying people's lives."
Former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson also committed suicide a year ago, shooting himself in the chest after having made arrangements to donate his brain to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University's School of Medicine. A researcher determined Duerson suffered from a "moderately advanced" case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The study indicated the damage to Duerson's brain affected his judgment, inhibition, impulse control, mood and memory.