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Former NFL offensive lineman Kyle Turley told U-T San Diego that he is suffering from severe mental problems, and has considered suicide, as a result of multiple head injuries he sustained while playing football.
Turley, 37, officially was diagnosed with two concussions during his eight-year NFL career, according to the newspaper, but he believes he suffered many more that went undiagnosed.
No one in my family has ever gone crazy and killed themselves or thought about that. I have. It's not a thought that is fleeting.” -- Former NFL offensive
lineman Kyle Turley
He told the paper that there is no history of mental illness in his family, and acknowledged he takes medication to help curb his suicidal thoughts.
"No one in my family has ever gone crazy and killed themselves or thought about that. I have," Turley said during a phone interview with U-T San Diego. "It's not a thought that is fleeting. It's a thought that goes away when I'm on my medication, and the thought of doing a lot of crazy things as well and making unbelievable decisions."
Turley told the paper that the medication, Depakote, "stops me from doing a lot of things my brain wants me to do in destructive ways."
Turley appeared in 109 games with the New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs and was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2000. He has agreed to have his brain donated to medical research after his death, and he also has donated money to the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, a non-profit corporation that provides financial assistance to retired NFL players.
Turley, who says he has a 2-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son, told U-T San Diego that he fears mental illness.
"I've got as good of a chance as anybody of going down that road into crazy land or into super crazy disease land," Turley told the paper. "I've got every opportunity to probably be in the same boat in the future, and I don't know how far in the future. It's very, very disturbing, very frustrating, very stressful to deal with, especially having children."
Turley also revealed that he called the NFL Life Line, the league's 24-hour confidential support service that was launched last year shortly after the suicide of former star linebacker Junior Seau.
"It was imperative that I did," Turley told the paper. "I don't know how to explain it. It's just a moment where you're lost. You're completely gone. You don't understand the things that you're doing, you're pissed at yourself because you're doing the things that you're doing, and you have little control, it seems, over it.
"Even in the moment, you're saying, 'Why is this happening? What is going on?' But you're still in it. It's a weird thing. I don't really know how to describe it. It's frustrating to no end, and that frustration can lead you to some pretty low places. Only those who have gotten to the point where they picked up a phone can probably understand."
Turley also told the paper that, despite his apparent bouts with mental illness, he still owns a gun. But he also emphasized that as a father of two, he wants to contribute to the NFL's awareness and approach toward head injuries.
"I am on a mission," he said. "My mission is to fix this game for my son. ... I think it's going to be inevitable that he wants to follow in his dad's footsteps."