(SAN DIEGO) — The San Diego County Coroner has ruled former longtime NFL linebacker Junior Seau’s death a suicide, according to a news release.
Seau, 43, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound of the chest Wednesday morning at his Oceanside, Calif., home.
Seau’s body will be released to the family’s mortuary after “completion of administrative responsibilities in the death certificate.”
Officials conducted a forensic autopsy, which includes “a full examination of a decedent’s body and organs and collection of specimens for laboratory studies.”
The Medical Examiner’s Office is “awaiting the family’s decision regarding study of the brain for repetitive injury by researchers outside of the office,” the coroner’s release said.
At a press conference outside Seau’s home on Wednesday, Oceanside Police Chief Frank McCoy said a woman who identified herself as Seau’s girlfriend called 911 at 9:45 a.m. PT and told the dispatcher she had found Seau unconscious in a bedroom with a gunshot wound to the chest.
McCoy said a handgun was found near Seau’s body but no suicide note was found at the scene.
Seau’s mother broke down in tears at the press conference Wednesday, saying, “Take me, take me, leave my son, but it’s too late.”
The Chargers released a statement to ABC News’ San Diego affiliate saying, “Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they’re doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family.”
Seau drove his SUV off a cliff in Carlsbad, Calif., in 2010, hours after being released from jail following a domestic violence arrest regarding his 25-year-old live-in girlfriend. Seau told police he drove off the cliff because he fell asleep behind the wheel, and police saw no evidence of alcohol or drugs, though some suspected Seau intended to commit suicide.
Seau played in the NFL for 20 years for teams including the Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. He leaves behind three children and an ex-wife, Gina Deboer.
Multiple former NFL players have committed suicide in recent years, possibly as a result of brain injuries, including former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, who also shot himself in the chest, ex-Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Terry Long, and Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Andre Waters.
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