Athlete and Suicide FactsThe facts, however, show that athletes are not immune to mental health issues. Just looking at a recent study of NCAA Athletes shows that the annual rate of suicide for male athletes was 1.35 per 100,000, and for female athletes it was 0.37 per 100,000. Among black athletes, the annual rate was 1.22 per 100,000, and among white athletes, the rate was 0.87 per 100,000 students. The highest rate of suicide occurred in football, with a rate of 2.25 instances of suicide per 100,000 athletes, which is partially explained by the result of head trauma.
Generalizing these numbers, it's about 2 suicides per 200,000 athletes a year. A low estimate are that there are 460,000 NCAA Athletes competing each year. This means every year there will be approximately 4 student athletes who commit suicide each year. Over the 9 year study, there were 477 student-athlete deaths, and suicide represented 35 of these deaths, and the leading preventable cause of death during this time. This study doesn't include high school athletes or professional athletes, where in that case the number would likely be tripled.
Preventable DiseaseOften athletes are put on pedestals, basically local heroes, leading it to be difficult to accept their own personal struggles when everything would lead it to appear they are living the dream. However like mentioned previously, these deaths can be avoided with increased awareness, and removing the stigma of mental health. Nobody looks down on athletes when they have a ligament tear and have to take care of themselves or go to extra rehab, however as long as the cloud over mental health issues remain, student-athletes will not get the help they need as they try to ignore their problems.
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The recent ivy league freshman, Madison Holleran, who committed suicide last year wrote in her note to her family, "I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out, and I thought how it is worse perhaps to be locked in" and friends and family spoke how in the months leading up to her death she often spoke of her unhappiness and pressure she felt, and often discussed transferring.
A football player at Ohio State University wrote in his final note to his mother that his "head was messed up", and a former Chicago Bears safety's lone message in his note was requesting his brain be studied for possible damage. Shortly before junior Seau's death as well, he made a comment to his friends and family that he wanted his brain to go to science for the study of concussive injuries.