There is current disagreement in the scientific literature about the relationship between playing football and suicide risk, particularly among professional players in the National Football League (NFL). While some research indicates players are at high risk of football-related concussions, which may lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy and suicide, other research finds such a connection to be speculative and unsupported by methodologically sound research.
This study concluded that there is no indication of elevated suicide risk in this cohort of professional football players with 5 or more credited seasons of play. Because of the unique nature of this cohort, these study results may not be applicable to professional football players who played fewer than 5 years or to college or high school players.
Everett J. Lehman, MS, Misty J. Hein, PhD, Christine M. Gersic. (2017) Suicide Mortality Among Retired National Football League Players Who Played 5 or More Seasons. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 44, I10, 2486 - 2491. doi.org/10.1177/0363546516645093