Kelly Catlin, Olympic medalist and shining star in the cycling world died Thursday in her Stanford University dorm. Her death, said to be a suicide, has struck her family, friends, and teammates particularly hard.
It is said that Catin was under significant pressure. As a graduate student, she was working on a degree in computational and mathematical engineering. And though at times she spoke of the difficulties in juggling schoolwork and cycling, she seemed to excel in both. NPR reports that a recent series of crashes had led to injuries. In December, a crash on a slick road gave her a concussion. Family members report that she changed after her concussion and, in late January, attempted suicide.
Although she was revived, the incident left her with heart and lung problems, and she lamented her continued frustrations to those around her. And so, as I write this article, I am reflecting on the loss to her family and friends and the cycling world, but also the loss of someone who championed for women's sports. Reading several stories about her tragic end, my mind keeps returning to that concussion she suffered in December. So often, people fail to realize just how devastating head injuries can be. Even with a helmet, even in a seemingly minor crash, a concussion can be life-altering.
Concussions and the Risk of Suicide
Concussions have received a lot of attention in the sports world over the past few years. Repeated concussions experienced by football players and boxers can bring on a condition referred to as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a neurodegenerative disease found in people who receive repeated head trauma. It can cause mood problems, trouble concentrating, behavioral problems, and dementia. And yet, as devastating as CTE is, even a single concussion can cause severe symptoms.
Let's consider the facts: a study performed by the Danish Research Institute of Suicide Prevention evaluated over 7 million individuals over 34 years. The results were startling. Individuals who had suffered from a concussion were twice as likely to commit suicide. And although no one knows for sure if Catlin's suicide was caused by symptoms she experienced due to her concussion, it certainly raises many questions.
This is why cyclists, and everyone, must take concussions and head injuries seriously! Even a "mild" concussion can have serious implications. If you are a cyclist and have you suffered a head injury in a bicycle crash, you need to seek medical attention. But you also need to speak with an attorney. So often, these crashes are not your fault. No one wants to incur medical bills and lost pay or suffer physically due to the actions of another. At Kass & Moses, we understand just how damaging concussions can be, and we will work with you to help you achieve the compensation that you deserve. If you have suffered a head injury in a bike accident, you owe it to yourself to call us today!