A recent study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine (AJSM) caught my eye last week. The study, from three researchers with the federal National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the CDC, found that retired NFL players had a 53% lower rate of suicide (95% confidence interval 18%-76%) versus a comparison group.
It’s an intriguing finding, but unfortunately the conclusions we can draw from it are limited. Specifically, the study cannot tell us whether professional football raises or lowers suicide rates. There are several reasons for this, but we’ll focus on a couple of the bigger ones below.