[ cheers and applause ] this is "nightline." >> tonight, smackdown. true. >> a stunning retirement in the world of pro wrestling. daniel bryan speaking out about his decision to walk away from the sport because of a problem usually associated with football. >> when you get slammed, you really get slammed. >> how concussions are a shared worry and what bryan has to say about his pro wrestling wife fighting in the ring. plus, suicide cluster. why does this affluent town in the heart of silicon valley have a teen suicide rate five times the national average? >> we were losing a child about
good evening. we start here with the issue of concussions and professional sports. not football this time but pro wrestling. while many people may think the sport is fake, the hits are often very real, and tonight we have the story of daniel bryan, a wwe champ whose life is now taking an unexpected and painful turn. here's abc's kayna whitworth. >> reporter: he's the now former professional wrestler best known for dishing out moves like the missile drop kick. >> the fairy tale has come true! peach trees. >> reporter: daniel bryan is speaking out for the first time with his wife brie bella, a professional wrestler herself, after bryan announced 4iz retirement last week. >> i took a test that said maybe my brain isn't as okay as i thought it was. >> head butts on top of the ladder. >> reporter: the 34-year-old wwe
after years of suffering blows concussions. >> within the first five months of my wrestling career i'd already had three concussions. and then it gets to the point when you've been wrestling for 16 years, that adds up to a lot of concussions. >> reporter: the decision wasn't easy for the yes man. >> yes! yes! >> reporter: who had wrestled and kicked his way to the world's biggest stage before understanding the effects the mpact sport might be having on his brain. >> the more concussions you have, the more susceptible you are to them. >> reporter: he is just the latest athlete to take a stance in what has become a gathering storm surrounding the repercussions of repeated trauma to the head. trauma that can lead to cte, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the brain disease linked to years of repeated hard hits to the head. it's identified only after death and has been found in numerous nfl players like hall of famers frank gifford and junior seau. last year san francisco 49ers
was retiring from football after just one season because of concerns about his brain. he spoke with espn's "outside the lines." >> football is an elective. it's a game. it's make believe. and to think that people have brain damage from some made-up game is, yeah, i think the meaninglessness of it, you draw the line at brain damage. >> reporter: bryan says some of the concussions he suffered led to seizures, which at the time he tried to keep private. at first not even telling brie. >> i was with him with one of his seizures after a concussion. and i mean, it scared me so bad i just -- i lost it. >> i just implored her, please don't say anything to anybody. >> yeah. >> if i tell them if i have a concussion they're not going to let me do what i do anymore. >> i think a lot of people think that pro wrestling is fake. is what you're doing in the ring real? >> it's not real, and it's not fake. so the -- when you get slammed, you really get slammed. i'm helping him slam me. >> but you're getting injured.
>> reporter: last year he was sidelined with injury. the wwe took him off their roster. >> wwe's doctor said i can't in good conscience allow to you risk yourself like that. >> athletes are like thoroughbreds. someone has to pull the reins because they will run themselves into the ground if given that opportunity. >> reporter: but some former pro wrestlers say the wwe hasn't always been as protective. in 2015 veto lagrasso and evan singleton filed suit, acougs the wwe of failing to diagnose concussions and sending people into the ring injured. even citing a case of wrestling superstar chris benoit, famous for his head butts, who after his death was found to have suffered from severe cte. the wwe told us, "wwe has never concealed any medical information related to concussions or otherwise from our performers, and in fact wwe has been well ahead of the nfl and other sports in implementing concussion management procedures and policies." the wwe implemented a talent
includes impact concussion testing, a protocol instituted in 2006. >> when i first started working for wwe, which was 2000, there wasn't a whole lot of concussion testing or anything like that. but there wasn't in any sports. >> something's wrong. >> reporter: that change in conversation coming about partly through the determination of the doctor recently played by will smith in the movie "concussion." >> tell the truth. >> dr. bennett omalu. >> we're look at a microscopic slide, a microscopic picture of the brain of a normal individual. the same region of the brain in a football player about 40 years old. and what you can see, the brownish spots. >> reporter: a forensic pathologist, omalu first discovered cte while performing an autopsy on nfl great mike webster. a four-time super bowl champ who died from a heart attack while homeless, broke, and alone.
a heart attack took his life at the age of 50. >> reporter: believing that behavioral changes were caused by trauma to his brain, dr. omalu performed webster's extensive autopsy. >> what struck me, what everybody was talking about how he did not do so well after football. i had to provide an explanation for that. >> reporter: he analyzed webster's brain and uncovered a new medical condition. that's when he called it cte and weechbtly told my ly recently told my colleague brian pitts about his findings. >> the most significant contributory factor to ct sechlt exposure to blunt force trauma of the head. >> are we talking like gentle slaps to the head? >> violent slaps that would make your brain move forward and backward, sideways in your skull, causing shearing injuries. >> you have to think about hits to the head like we think about smoking and lung cancer. you start young enough, you're going to open up the door to lung cancer, just like if you
times every year while your brain is still developing you're >> reporter: today more professional athletes are not as afraid to speak out about the toll contact sports is taking on them. >> manning. ben utek. >> reporter: a former tight end for the indianapolis colts and cincinnati bengals. >> for me it has revolved more around memories and, you know, cognitive -- my cognitive abilities. >> reporter: the nfl released this report in the days leading up to super bowl 50, saying "diagnosed concussions in the league increased 58% this season, with a staggering 271 players sidelined since preseason." compare that to the 206 concussions reported in 2014. the nfl told abc news the reason for an increase in concussions are unclear but it will look at any significant trends. >> i think there's no question that the cte discussion and
going to lead to better outcome for people. we need to embrace this opportunity to prevent this disease from happening in the next generation of athletes. >> reporter: for bryan he hopes that being proactive will make the difference but still worries about his wife, brie, who's in the ring. >> there's a specific incident, it was a couple months ago, she got -- she was standing on the announce table and she got swiped off and she just took a big fall to the floor. a little bit ago she'd gotten a concussion in the ring. so she had to take a week or two off. she's strong, but you still -- sometimes she's my wife, you know, and you want to protect her. right? >> reporter: both are hoping to start a family. so for wwe fans that might mean another retirement announcement and soon. >> feeling and seeing everything he went through with his retirement, i just feel that it's time for me to hang up the boots. it's going to be hard on me as well. but that day is definitely very close.
kayna whitworth in los angeles. next, the wealthy town with a skyrocketing teen suicide rate. what parents, teachers, and students are doing to stop it. shopping for an suv? well, this is the time. and your ford dealer is the place, to get 0% financing for 60 months on a ford suv. that's right. just announced. ford explorer...edge...escape... and expedition... are available with 0% financing for 60 months. ford suvs. designed to help you be unstoppable. no wonder ford is america's best selling brand. but hurry, 0% financing for 60 months on ford suvs is a limited time offer. see your ford dealer today. if you have moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis like me, and you're talking to a
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tree-lined, palo alto, california. >> silicon valley is the most innovative place in the world. >> reporter: where one idea today can change the world tomorrow. >> so let's do this. >> reporter: houses here sell for millions, and the high schools are top notch. but the limitless potential that palo alto projects has another side. >> a so-called hot spot for suicides p. >> because of the sheer number it was just massive. >> reporter: just last year four palo alto teens took their own lives, enough to be considered a suicide cluster. and this was the second one to rock this community in six years. >> we were losing a child about every six weeks. >> obviously there's like a crisis. >> reporter: now with the teen suicide rate five times the national average, prompting the cdc to announce today an investigation as to why so many kids here have chosen to end it all. >> a 16-year-old boy took his own life. >> reporter: on the night one of her classmates died, student martha cabot took to youtube placing blame, what she called
>> the amount of stress on a student is ridiculous. >> reporter: for christian leong and andrew baird, at the time juniors at the other public high school in town, word of his death stunned them. >> it was really sad for me because i didn't ever think that that kind of thing is even possible for someone our age. >> reporter: what does it, do you think? for your peers and people suddenly realize it is an option, when someone they know takes that option. >> well, with the whole nature of suicide clusters, we see that when one person does it other people who considered it as an option may consider it more seriously. which is really frightening. out? how on earth am i to expect anyone else to? >> reporter: so last summer they "unmasked their classmates revealing their own struggles with anxiety and depression. >> through my struggles with depression i self-medicated a lot with alcohol and drugs.
>> they're trying to take off the happy everything is okay mask that our community has and really just talk about the deep problems that we're going through. >> reporter: where does that pressure come from? does it come from classmates? does it come from teachers? does it come from parents? >> i think if we knew the answer then it would be a lot easier to solve the problem. >> reporter: dr. madeline gould, an epidemiologist at columbia university, was invited to palo alto to study what could be causing the alarming number of teen suicides. >> there are many communities that have high stress levels and are economically advantaged and they haven't experienced a suicide cluster. >> reporter: she cautions that one teen suicide can have the frightening and unintended consequence of signaling to other teens that it's a real option. >> they practically don't occur in any other age group. so between the social influences and the biological influences it makes them much more vulnerable to being influenced by somebody
>> reporter: and what they can't see at that time is that there are other ways out of the pain, something taylor chu is alive to feel grateful for. >> it's still to this day i struggle with the terminology attempted suicide. >> reporter: the now graduate of palo alto high school says the pressure during her freshman year to achieve was too much. >> it was just insane. i did almost all of the a.p. classes i could take. >> reporter: taylor says sleep was the one thing she didn't make time for. >> for a long time i'd been feeling like i was drowning. i didn't know how to say that i needed a break. >> reporter: it led her to one impulsive moment of desperation. >> what i was trying to achieve was this separation from my reality that i couldn't face. >> reporter: her parents got her into treatment. and with the help of her teachers she made changes to lessen her load. but julianna tachabana's brother ben didn't get the help he needed. he was a sophomore when he took his own life.
have overcome enormous pain want to spread -- life is worth living. >> if you have people around you that kind of keep reminding you that it is going to get better. >> things are really look up. >> reporter: mark vincenti, a former english teacher at gunn high school who mourned the loss of some of his own students, sees a need for change in the classroom. >> there is a lot that classrooms can do to make teenage despair more bearable and more survivable. that the school environment is crucial. >> reporter: he believes smaller class sizes and, yes, less homework. students feeling like they can say enough could make a difference. >> what's so challenging about going to high school in this part of the country? >> the things that are challenging about going to high school here i believe are infecting high schools across the country because we see now a national discussion about overstressed, burned-out teernlgds. >> reporter: gunn high school has taken action, implementing the yes program to teach students positive coping techniques to deal with stress.
of is that we're not doing just one or two things. we're really looking at holistic plans to sort of build a web of support for our students. >> reporter: in suicide clusters are definitely not just a palo alto problem. >> what we found is that it crosses every socioeconomic characteristic. communities have been impoverished, and we've seen them have a suicide cluster. very driven, wealthy communities have suicide clusters. >> reporter: and it turns out some 15% to 20% of all teens have considered suicide. but reducing stigma around depression and creating dialogue about mental health are crucial steps toward preventing these deaths. >> it really is a community effort. it's really everyone has a role, everyone has a part. it could just be noticing someone's sad and going over to them and saying hey, are you okay? do you want to talk? and those little instances of reaching out i think go a long way. >> reporter: for "nightline" i'm
>> our thanks to byron for that important report. and if you want to find resources about mental health and suicide prevention, including diane sawyer's recent interview with sue klebold about her book "a mother's reckoning" you can go to our website at abc.com. and ahead something very different. we'll take you to the super bowl of dog shows. the beauty routines, diets, and the dog who just took home best in show at the westminster dog show tonight. what happens when lobster gets grilled, baked, and paired with even more lobster? you get hungry. and you count the seconds until red lobster's lobsterfest is back with the largest variety of lobster dishes of the year. like new dueling lobster tails with one tail stuffed with crab, and the other with langostino lobster mac-and-cheese, it's a party on a plate! and you know every bite of 'lobster lover's dream' lives up to its name. hey, eating is believing.
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finally tonight, we have a new top dog. c.j., the german shorthaired pointer, won best in show tonight in the westminster kennel club dog show. it all looks so seamless and so cute out there on the stage, but wait until you see how much work goes into these dogs behind the scenes. for that here's abc's jesse palmer. >> reporter: the contestants may be cute. >> what a beautiful mover. >> reporter: but the competition is always fierce. >> this is like the super bowl. it's like the world series for us. if you get here and you win it's like nothing else in the world. >> reporter: i'm at the 140th westminster dog show. there are over 3,000 dogs here. and they're all competing for one thing and one thing only. best in show. like any pageant, the competitors' beauty routines are complex. >> they have as many products as you would. >> shampoo for an hour. >> wow.
to force-dry every cord to get it dry. >> reporter: there are plenty of divas on hand. >> this dog can not only just look beautiful in the ring but he can take down a gazelle. >> he looks so nice and docile and sweet and gentle. >> she likes mcdonald's. that's her favorite. >> what's the order normally? >> plain cheeseburgers and chicken mcnuggets. >> me too. >> reporter: and there are also some newcomers in the crowd. seven in total. including the french briget picard. >> they jump out of their skin to just being here. >> reporter: and the spanish water dog. >> this is wirefox terrier. >> reporter: then there are the tried and true favorites. the wirefox terrier is often top dog. the breed has won best in show 14 times. and this time around classic german shepherd rumor -- >> beautiful. >> reporter: -- is a crowd favorite. in the end only one dog could be best in show. >> best in show dog tonight 2016 is the german shorthaired pointer. >> the german shorthaired
>> reporter: but i can safely say all the contestants are pretty adorable. >> this makes my day. >> reporter: for "nightline" i'm jesse palmer in new york. even as a cat guy i'd have to agree. jsee, ee jesse, thank you for that report. and thank you for watching "nightline" tonight. tune in to "gma" in the morning and you'll be able to see the winner of the westminster kennel club dog show c.j. live on the air. in the meantime we're online 24/7 on our "nightline" facebook page and at abcnews.com. thanks again for watching and