07/18/2022 UCLA’s Thomas Cole Retires From Football After Suicide Attempt

This is the type of decision we need to applaud – and LOUDLY, bc of the right example it sets. 

As someone who was an athlete my whole life (I guess I’m technically still a weekend warrior if that counts, too ;)), I’m not promoting that kids should just drop out of sports.  In the sports community we know just how much competition teaches life skills…being part of a team is so rewarding & provides vital experiences for situations we’ll continue to encounter.

Here’s the but – IF the participation in the sport, on any level (from rec league on through pro) is negatively affecting one’s health in a major/risky way, we need to applaud an athlete’s decision to step away. 

Here is a piece from Thomas Cole’s statement I pulled out (full statement on the next slide➡️):

“After many months of thorough consideration I have come to the conclusion that football is not conducive for my mental health, and there is more to my life than the game of football.”

In his share, he talked about how he survived a suicide attempt earlier this year.  For those who have experienced the ideations, you know, that magnetic pull towards self harm is so hard to fight.  If Cole has noticed that the continued stress of playing/practices/expectations (on top of whatever stress & trauma & genetic predisposition he has already) caused him to feel those magnetic pulls again…he is absolutely making the right decision. LIFE is more valuable than the love of any sport or competition or title we are chasing. 

As someone who is a competitive SOB, that’s hard for me to say, as I LOVE to compete. But if you were running on a severely broken leg every day, you’d step away bc you would eventually crush that leg to pieces. With MH the stakes are even higher – it’s not a crushed leg…it’s the potential of a lost life. 

You hope with time & thoughtful exercise/work, Cole and athletes like him (or anyone in any arena in life), can get to a better place where they don’t feel that close to those magnetic pulls. But till then, these decisions are the right ones – and we need to openly discuss them and applaud them👏.

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