I was saddened to hear today of a suicide by a football manager named Gary Speed. Gary Speed had the looks, the money, the life and was fit and healthy. Many are left surprised as to how he could have killed himself. Football is often called “The Beautiful Game” and I know many who love the game so much they will watch every match they can. I have many nephews who ardently follow their favourite teams, know so much about what is going on in football, scream at matches and dress up excitedly to see a match in their teams colours.
Gary Speed was 42 years of age, had two children and was married. He was doing well and had also been a successful footballer for Wales. Many of the comments being made in the press and on the news was as to how; it was unexpected, he seemed happy, and it seemed to be impossible to have imagined the man who had everything to have ever committed suicide.
He hung himself and was found by his wife early in the morning. Many other footballers and sportsmen have also killed themselves. It is not a case in isolation. Often comments have been made that “How can you be depressed when you are on £20,000 a week?” For the person concerned even £100,000 or a million pounds a week is not enough. We do not know what is going on in the mind at the time of the suicide but we do know they are dark thoughts and seem very reasonable at the time, even though on reflection later on, are deduced as unreasonable. Often the person who wants to commit suicide is not as television portrays but can look bubbly and pretends very well; all is well. There is the disconnect between the act and how they feel until they actually do the deed.
Football and much of the Sportsworld has a very ‘macho’ image that therapy is not for them. That is sad and if Gary Speed had been able to reach out he may have found another way to navigate whatever was bothering him at the moment. He must have had felt there was no one else he could turn to nor felt could understand his real thoughts. He must have only seen one option. He may not have been able to see his own loving wife or his children as he may have been in such pain and despair.
Depression is an awful thing, it can follow us around, we can blithely hide it with alcohol and drugs but it is still there, waiting and greeting us like a black dog it is. When people do plan to commit suicide it seems logical to them, it makes them happy to organise and actually do something. The thing is that too shall pass, the depression, the sadness, they all can pass through with a different approach, there is no need to kill yourself. I hope the Football Association works to help the players and the managers more psychologically for life and not just to win and bring in revenue. Football is a very emotional game and this “Beautiful Game” can turn ugly too.