Suicide, Drugs, & High School Football: What’s the Connection?

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Drug abuse and suicide amongst high school students has reached epidemic proportions in the last few years. Why is this? In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen discuss the possible causes for all this tragedy occurring in today’s youth.


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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warriors Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.

Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warriors Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit

Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior Ways podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit Welcome to The Brain Warriors Way podcast. And stay tuned for a special code for a discount to Amen Clinics for a full evaluation, as well as any of our supplements at

Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. Thank you so much for the podcast reviews. I love this one. "I'm continually amazed how often I listen in and find an exact answer to a question or problem I am facing. Excellent resource and very on target. Thank you."

Tana Amen: Love that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Another one from Nico83, healing my brain. "I've known for a long time I've got something going on with my brain." Don't we all? "I've struggled with depression, anxiety, memory, weight loss. I'm so happy to have found this podcast. I feel like for the first time I found a group of people who look logically and scientifically at these issues holistically and consider one of the most important elements of our lives, our diet. I'm looking forward to hearing more and learning ways to improve my brain health and life with the smarts of Dr. Amen, Tana, and their clan. Thank you all."

Tana Amen: Awesome.

Dr. Daniel Amen: That was awesome. Thank you so much. Today there was an article recently in the paper on suicides, drug addiction, and high school football. I'm like, these are three epidemic crises in the United States. Yes, football is an epidemic crisis. When they own a day of the week, it's a crisis. Madison in southeastern Indiana, which apparently is a beautiful small city, is at the center of drug trafficking triangle connecting Indianapolis-

Tana Amen: Wow, serious?

Dr. Daniel Amen: Cincinnati, and Louisville. It's really, they're battling life and death problems. And a lot of the football players who get hurt get opiates, then become addicted. And we know about the connection.

Tana Amen: This is not a unique thing, though. This is going on like so many places. We live in a very nice place, the drugs are out of control. We just had a football player at Chloe's high school commit suicide, and leave three notes, one for teachers, one for students, and one for his parents. Kids have access to so much now, and it's just tragic.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, and what we want them to have access to is-

Tana Amen: Help.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Healthy brains.

Tana Amen: And help. They need access to help and they need to know that they can get help and reach out for it if they need it.

Dr. Daniel Amen: In brain health, we always talk about it's three things. It's brain envy. You've got to care about it. So few people care, and the reason people don't care about their brains is you can't see it. You can see the wrinkles in your skin. I'm not looking at you. I'm not doing that.

Tana Amen: There are plenty there.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You can see the wrinkles in your skin or the fat around your belly, and you can do something when you're unhappy with it, but because most people never look at their brains, they don't think about it, and because they don't think about it, they don't care about it. So the first thing, so you saw your scan, and I said you have the beautiful woman syndrome. Your brain was awesome. I decided to keep you.

Tana Amen: But it wasn't perfect.

Dr. Daniel Amen: But it wasn't perfect, so you just saw every flaw.

Tana Amen: Right. I saw these little flaws magnified.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And then you wanted it better. Right.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: So, that's brain envy. You want a better brain. So, it's caring and then it's avoiding things that hurt it.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Contact sports hurt the brain. There's no other way to say that. If you are getting hit in the head repeatedly-

Tana Amen: It should be fairly obvious. Okay. You go to jail if you shake a baby. Why is this hard?

Dr. Daniel Amen: Can shaking a baby cause longterm brain damage?

Tana Amen: It can kill it. You can kill it.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Or you can decrease its IQ or you can, right? So, if you get hit by a linebacker that's 200 pounds-

Tana Amen: It's like shaken baby syndrome.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's like a shaken baby syndrome. And it's not just football. It's riding horses. You can fall off these big animals, or playing hockey.

Tana Amen: You can get hurt doing almost anything, but there are some sports where it's the goal. It's the goal is to crash and smash, and you know.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You can get hurt doing anything, but there are some sports where it's actually the goal.

Tana Amen: The goal, right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. So, I think we should be careful and I think we should be protecting kids way more than we do.

Tana Amen: And we've got to do a better job of educating them why drugs and alcohol, it's not just about, "Oh we don't want you to not do drugs because of the morality issue." Yes, okay. There's all of that involved. That isn't just the only issue. We've got to be educating them about what it's doing to their development.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. And most kids don't really get that their brain is not actually fully developed until they're 25. If they go with the early drug use option, it's actually damaging-

Tana Amen: It's effecting their ability to get into the college they want, to get the job they want, their employability.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's damaging and delaying their development.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: In the addiction world, we often say if you started using drugs when you were 15 and you didn't stop 'till you were 30, well emotionally you're still 15, but your brain has not fully developed and the brain has windows where it will develop during a certain period, and then it won't develop after that. So, early drug use can actually have lifelong negative implications.

Tana Amen: Well, and I don't know if anyone else has experienced this, but I recently had been working with somebody who had started using substances when she was about 12 or 13. I'm telling you, everyone that was helping me was like, "It's like trying to deal emotionally with a 12 or 13 year old." Now fortunately with some help over time, there began to be some emotional maturity that began to happen, but it was not easy in the beginning because you can't understand why this person can't think like everybody else. It's because that stunted growth, that stunted development.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, and so educating people to that is really important because when you talk to kids, if you actually teach them to fall in love with their brains, they're so much better at it. If you take concussions, and she, this person we're talking about, had 19 car accidents. If you take concussions, mix it with drug addiction, you actually have a recipe for suicide. And I often tell my patients suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary feeling or problem.

Tana Amen: I want to, it's really important to leave a message of hope here. This person had really hit, I mean if there's a lower bottom than rock bottom, had hit a lower bottom than rock bottom, and we worked with her-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Basement bottom.

Tana Amen: Something like that. So, it was really bad. In working with her, really putting a lot of energy in and working with this person over about a year's time, what was really fun for me, just recently I spoke with her, and she not only is working now, has two jobs, is thriving. There were times where I actually questioned, is this gonna happen? Are we gonna be able to turn this thing around? All of a sudden, it was so much fun for me, just recently she actually said to me. She said, "You know I was going through some of your materials, and the same stuff that I couldn't comprehend a year ago," she said, I am blown away. She goes, "I see where I was a year ago and I see where I am now." And she was stunned. She's like, "I cannot believe"-

Dr. Daniel Amen: Well I think both of us are stunned. And we do this for a living.

Tana Amen: All the time, right. But it was just so cool. There's the hope there. There is hope. And I don't know too many people who hit lower bottom than that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And I talked to the 13 year old daughter or eight year old daughter all the time about protecting their brain and loving their brain. When we first brought them down, because we're helping to support them. We don't buy food.

Tana Amen: It had to be all of it. We did everything.

Dr. Daniel Amen: That you love that doesn't love you back.

Tana Amen: Yeah. There is a message of hope there. It's really cool.

Dr. Daniel Amen: So, if you want to be part of the solution, you have to first love your brain, and then teach other people how to love theirs. Share The Brain Warriors Way podcast with them, too. Take care.

Tana Amen: Thanks.