Lethal Impulse

Two Nebraska families that lost teens to suicide believe untreated head injuries contributed to the deaths.

Tren Rathman of Wood River and Ryan Schramm of Odell each killed himself just weeks after a car accident.

Neither was purely cause and effect. Each teen was experiencing other pressures at the time of his death. But their parents said the behaviors of the two teens changed dramatically after the accidents.

Medical research suggests this is entirely possible, because a head injury can lead to dementia, and dementia can lead to changes in mood and behavior.

Darrell Schramm regrets that he didn't get help for his son, Ryan, right away. Ryan had been complaining of blurred vision but also told friends of severe dizzy spells. Tren Rathman suffered from blurred vision, too, and was scheduled to be examined by a specialist in Denver.

His mother, Sherrie Rathman, remembers the day her son died. She was doing a clinical rotation for nursing school when she heard a 10-65 "probable death" call on the police scanner, for just outside Wood River.

"'Possible self-inflicted' was all I got, " she said, "and I knew it right there."