Contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at “988” or by texting “HOME to 741741 if you think you may be in a mental crisis.
Katie Meyer, Stanford University soccer goalie, was killed by suicide in March. Her grieving teammates were close even though they weren’t training.
The coaches adjusted practices to allow the athletes to process Meyer’s death. They offered to cancel spring season but players refused, according to Melissa Charloe who was a Stanford assistant women’s soccer coach when Meyer died.
Charloe stated, “It’s difficult because there’s not a playbook on how you do this.”
Because it was rare until recently, there is no playbook. Student-athletes may commit suicide. At the very least five NCAA athletesMeyer was one of the victims. Meyer died in two months. A 2021 NCAA poll In May, it was revealed that student-athletes report more mental health concerns, anxiety and depression than they reported in the surveys they completed before 2020’s covid-19 pandemic.
Suicide is the most common form of suicide Second-leading cause of death on college campuses. In spite of the increase in mental health concerns, universities were caught off guard by suicides among student-athletes. Sports psychologists have traditionally focused on mental health in relation to field performance. Because college athletes are less likely to have mental health issues, their goal was to help them improve their physical performance — run faster, jump higher — and not to navigate mental health crises.
What little research exists About student athletes and mental well-being Inconclusive and inconsistent. Many experts believe that athletes are insulated. Risk factors like depression and social isolationPartly because Physical activity is great for your mental health Kim Gorman, director for counseling and psychological services at the University of Washington, stated that athletes need a constant stream of people around them. This includes coaches, trainers, teammates, and other team members. Western Carolina University.
According to an organizational psychologist, “They are used to pain — it is not so foreign to them.” Matt MishkindThe deputy director of the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center The University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus.
Yet, athletes still face challenges Students face pressures that are not experienced by their peers. This includes balancing schoolwork, sports, fear of career-ending injuries, as well as mistakes that could lead to ridicule on social media. With Suicide rates in the general populace are on the rise With the effects of the pandemic still threatening well-being, high-profile suicides show how to deal and prevent the unthinkable from happening again.
Schools are reviewing the mental health support they offer in the wake of suicides. Psychologists say it is important to create a safe place for grieving people who are able to understand suicide. Doreen MarshallThe American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s vice president is.
She said that while many professionals can deal with grief, suicide grief is a different story. Suicide grief often involves guilt and questions about the reason someone would want to end their lives.
Gina Meyer, Katie’s mother, and Steve Meyer, her husband, have created an initiative. Katie’s SaveTo ensure that students have someone to trust in trouble, She said, “We know it is the most courageous thing you can do to ask for help.”
The Meyers filed for a wrongful death lawsuit In November, Stanford was sued by the family alleging that their daughter killed herself after she received an email from Stanford about disciplinary actions against her. Dee Mostofi, spokesperson for Stanford University, did not respond to questions regarding the case. However, Stanford It posted a statement to its website The suit was misleading and the school denies that it is responsible.
Mostofi stated that Stanford, like other universities and colleges across the country has experienced a sharp rise in the demand for mental health counseling services and other well-being resources over two years. “Mental well-being remains a major challenge and our top priority.
Stanford offered mental health counseling and a sports psychologist to Meyer’s teammates after her death. However, the players claimed that they lobbyed the university for Zoom sessions with a specialist. Kimberly O’Brien, a social worker in the Sports Medicine Division’s Female Athlete program at Boston Children’s Hospital.
O’Brien has personal and professional experience with suicide and sports. In 1998, O’Brien was an ice hockey player at Harvard when one of her university athletes died. She said, “I wasn’t even very close to her, yet it affected me deeply.” “I had no resources to deal it.”
That’s changing. Colleges are working to More mental health therapists available To meet changing and more varied needs. Some universities, such as Washington State University and Stanford, collaborate with them. Jed FoundationThe, which offers suicide prevention programming for college and high school students. Crisis support does not happen only in the student health centre: Colleges have established campus-wide crisis support. “postvention” programs To prevent suicide contagion.
Sarah Shulze was 21 years old when she committed suicide at the University of Wisconsin Madison in April 2022. The athletics department had already increased its mental health support staff from two to six to assist the school’s 800 student-athletes. David LacocqueThe department’s director for mental health and sports psychology is. The department was known as “clinical and sport psychology” until eight months ago. Student-athletes asked for support with mental health.
The sports liaisons are available to assist with mental health concerns, such as attending practices, team meetings, training sessions and competitions, in addition to their scheduled appointments.
Lacocque stated, “Gone are those days when we sit inside our office and wait to people knock on the doors and talk to us.”
Students-athletes have the option to seek help from mental health professionals at the University of Wisconsin or community providers under contract with the University of Wisconsin athletics. Some women’s cross-country runners at the school keep an eye on their teammates, even when they are not there. They can also let the team liaison know if they have concerns about someone’s mental well-being.
Maddie Mooney, a teammate, said that “we don’t want anyone getting between the cracks.” “It’s hard for everyone, and everybody grieves at their own paces and processes the things differently.
Victoria Heiligenthal, a teammate who lived in the same house as Shulze, stated that she avoided campus counselors for several months after the death of her friend. She said that she wanted to be with friends who understood the situation and was either alone or with them.
Heiligenthal was too sick to leave the house where she and Shulze lived. The university placed Mooney and her in a hotel for one week. Mooney then let Heiligenthal stay a while at Mooney’s place. Mooney and her teammates were visited by coaches, trainers, and psychologists.
The real game-changer for them was meeting up with Stanford soccer players Sierra Enge (now playing professionally) last spring. Enge reached out to Mooney after seeing an Instagram post by Mooney. The four of them have been in touch via Zoom since then. They also spoke with O’Brien, and they will be joining her on a panel for mental health at a Boston conference In June, they will share their stories of losing a teammate.
Heiligenthal stated, “It was powerful to hear the parallels.” “It made me realize Maddie and myself weren’t the only ones experiencing similar experiences to me; there were many others.”
Last fall, Stanford and the University of Wisconsin-Madison honored their deceased teammates by raising awareness about mental health. At a major meet In October, Wisconsin runners painted green ribbons along the course and placed ribbons in their race packets. Contributed to a video. To highlight the importance and urgency of mental health, Stanford fans wore green ribbons in November’s Stanford vs UCLA game.
Stanford won the game and handed UCLA its first loss of season. It was bittersweet to win. Meyer was the one who had led the team’s first mental-health awareness game a year before.