Duerson's son honored for suicide awareness work

April 28, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Sunday, his son was honored for his work in raising awareness about suicide in the Chicago area, and says the impact suicide has on surviving family members is long lasting and powerful.

It's another way Tregg Duerson is honored for his commitment to his father's legacy.

"I would love for him to be here and I could share with him. But obviously if he was here, I would not be here right now. So, it's tough," he said.

Sunday afternoon, the second eldest son of Chicago Bears great Dave Duerson received the 2013 Charles T. Rubey LOSS Award after he was inspired by his father's struggles and became an advocate for concussion safety and suicide prevention.

It comes just months after the two-year anniversary of the football player's death.

"It's really eye-opening to know that most of these people in this room have been touched by suicide," Tregg Duerson said.

LOSS stands for Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide and the award is named in honor of Father Charles Rubey who, with the support of catholic charities, founded the program in March of 1979.

"What LOSS does is provide a safe non-judgmental environment where people can grieve the loss of the loved one from suicide," Father Rubey said.

Dave Duerson was an All-Pro safety for the 1985 Bears, helping the team to win the Super Bowl.

But on February 17, 2011, Duerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest in his Florida home.

In his suicide note he asked that his brain be donated to Boston University where researchers there concluded he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease brought on by head trauma.

"It has brought so much awareness to the NFL and I'm just so proud of him and what it's done," said Alicia Duerson.

About 1,000 people attended Sunday's brunch, including Linsay Van Sickle, who lost her dad Tom to suicide in 2011.

"Everyone here has been through the same thing dealt with the same issues," she said. "It's just reassuring to know that you are not alone."

So, there is comfort as these survivors and a son continue the difficult task of moving past the pain of loss.

"I loved my father," Tregg Duerson said. "I always cherish all the moments I had with him and I miss him each and every day."

Duerson said he has re-established his father's foundation, the Dave Duerson Foundation, which provides concussion diagnostic tests to disadvantaged communities.

He's also serving as spokesperson for an on-going campaign aimed at reducing the stigma attached to suicide.

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