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Performed by Kim Burstow
Please Click here for Suicide 'Fact Sheet'.
“If only I knew”….”If only I had noticed”….”.If only I had
acted earlier”…”If only I’d been there” ...etc. etc... . These phrases are tragic in their
implications. They should never have to be used. They engender sorrow and guilt in someone who has been privy to
the soul destroying effects of the death by suicide of someone close to them. It can often be a burden they
carry through for the rest of their lives, and yet they shouldn’t feel this way. How could you take on this
negative, guilt ridden attitude if you did not know what you were experiencing or observing? As stated before,
many false opinions and prejudices, propagated by others, including the media, have impacted on people’s thought
processes and perceptions. Add to this the benign ignorance associated with a lack of education and one can see why mental ill health often goes undetected.
Before we go further it is important to realize that suicide is
not necessarily the end result of depression. There are instances where there is no explanation or where the
individual clearly makes the choice to end their life, based on factors unrelated to distorted perception, low
mood or clouded consciousness. These are in the minority however. Most suicides are resultant from depression or
depressive illnesses and to that end, we will focus on this area.
One of the saddest aspects of suicide is that the person
obviously feels they are generally worthless to the point that either the world would be better off without them
or that their life means nothing to themselves or to anybody else. All life has worth. No matter how
‘bad’ you are or how ‘good’ you are, whether you’re a criminal or a pillar of
society. No matter if you’re old or young, sick or well, employed or unemployed, high achieving or average,
intellectually or physically impaired or a ‘top flight’ athlete.
Why is it that some choose to end their lives and fail to see
out the purpose for their existence? In many cases, we simply do not know. We can’t ask the person, we can only
go on supposition & evidence based in previous behaviour, mood, incidents & issues, life events,
history, family dynamics etc., ,and occasionally a written explanation.
What is important, and true, is the fact that these people have
descended so far into depression or become so unwell that they’ve made this
choice and without anyone apparently noticing the warning signs, ignoring them or simply not knowing the
From the outset, it is important to realize that anyone who
chooses the path of suicide and is determined to accomplish their aim is unlikely to be stopped. They often
appear brighter & more settled than they had previously been, giving all indication that maybe ‘things
are better’. This is because the battle within…’life or death’, has been internally resolved. It
is very accurately portrayed in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, where he says….”to be or not to be, that is
This is why it is essential that intervention be undertaken
early in the downward spiral of depression. Early identification of depression & the issues & concerns
that may have led to this state, are the only ways of preventing the majority of suicides. We need to treat the
cause, not the symptom.
As difficult as it is to accept, you can never totally remove
suicide from society, but we can make tremendous steps toward reducing the incidence by taking heed of the
signals, the precursors to, and the root cause of depressive illness and general mental illness.
There are those who use their lives as a holy sacrifice;
martyrdom. There are those who are so psychotic that their delusional beliefs
& hallucinations will drive them to take their lives; and there are those for whom no explanation can be
As sad as it is, the notion of ‘suicide
prevention’ will not eradicate the event from occurring. The only hope is that we, as a society, can
work toward lessening the incidence and the effect through education, early identification & prompt
intervention. Unfortunately our ever evolving society is the very thing that is impeding the probability of
achieving this aim.
Pressures, stressors & life’s increasing pace are contributing to the
increase in depression & mental illness. Add to this the decline in
marriage & relationship stability, family breakdowns & the
subsequent family law court actions/decisions, child support & maintenance, drugs & alcohol, gambling, higher expectations from
employers & family and increased financial burdens, and it is easy to see why it sometimes ‘all becomes
too much’. Other factors such as unresolved, traumatic childhood experiences impact heavily on the
individual. Physical, psychological & sexual abuse is extremely powerful &
There are those people who are so completely overcome by
depression that they are physically, emotionally & psychologically incapable of taking their lives, even
though they may be consumed by suicidal thoughts. Their level of depression has resulted in ‘psychomotor
retardation’ (a state where the individual is significantly ‘slowed’ in their physical
movements, thought processes, speech, emotional response etc.) Unfortunately, some treatments for depression may
lift the person ‘up’ to the point where they are now capable of fulfilling their wish to end their
lives, as the suicidal thoughts persist. This is the most dangerous period of the depressed persons’ mental
state. This is where suicide risk is highest.
The incidence of suicide in Rugby League is reported to be of
similar rate to that overall nationally, though this is completely unacceptable, given the nature of the sport
and the frequent and regular contact these guys have with others, particularly the clubs, coaching &
conditioning staff, teammates etc. How is it possible that these people’s problems and issues are not noticed?
This is not a slight on Rugby League, but rather a pertinent point regarding how
a lack of education, information & awareness has made it possible.
More importantly, there have been instances where young healthy
footballers have taken their lives, before they have fulfilled their potential; before they’ve matured to the
point of greater independence & serious relationships; before they have
begun to experience the full gamut of pleasures life has to offer. The section on ‘Junior Rugby League’ will detail many of the issues pertinent to this
group and summarise the significant points needed to be addressed.
The issue of ‘Suicide Prevention’ or the aim of
reducing the rate of suicide is something that involves everyone. This is not to say that the burden of
responsibility & culpability is therefore attached, it simply means the need for an awareness that suicide
can strike at any time, anywhere & basically anyone.
How can this happen??.....& why?
One of the aims of ‘suicide
prevention’ is the early identification of those people considered to be ‘at risk’ of taking their
own lives. In order to establish who may be susceptible there is a need to identify ‘risk factors’ or
specific, common & statistically frequent elements pertaining to the suicidal individual. Through a
combination of information collected from those with suicidal thoughts, those who have attempted suicide and
history gathered concerning actual suicides, clear evidence now exists regarding ‘baseline’ risk
As with all mental illness, the
use of a ‘bio-psycho-social’ model is useful in identifying where ‘risk’ originates and the
underlying causes for suicidal ideation. Unfortunately not everyone is tested for their ‘level of
risk’. It is not something that the individual is compelled to undertake or willing to participate in. It
is only when mental distress is severe that a person may be assessed for possible
risk. Sometimes this is almost too late.
Taking your own life is a choice.
It is a decision you make, whether impulsively or planned. One might say that it is your right to do with your
life as you please. “It’s my
life, nobody else’s”. That’s true and no-one is condemning or
judging the person who feels this way. The problem is that life is sacred and should be valued; by society and
by the individual themselves. If there are factors relating to you as a total being that predispose you to a
choice of suicide as an option, then perhaps these need to be addressed as one would for any inappropriate
beliefs or maladaptive coping. Most, if not all, of the ‘seeds’ for potential suicide have resulted
from developmental experiences. These combined with stressors & ‘active’ & personal current
events, incidents, experiences, issues etc. create a situation where suicide is not just a ‘last
resort’ option, but a realistic alternative in the mind of the individual
Statistically speaking there are
some groups clearly identifiable as being at risk. Others are influenced by factors specific to the individual
and contingent upon certain variables. The impact of an event or an experience may be traumatic to one, yet
minimal to another. Upbringing & childhood incidents will vary from person to person. There are some
individuals that are from only one (1) risk category, yet develop depression or take their own lives. Others may
fall into a ‘high
risk’ category, yet never develop depression or engage
in ‘self harming’ behaviour.
There are no hard & fast rules, though history & past evidence strongly suggests the following groups of
people & factors involved in the development of mental illness, depressive
disorders and/or suicidality. Many of these groups are soundly statistically based and many are specific to
the life of the Rugby League
stated before, age is a significant indicator of ‘risk’. In 2005, 19.3% of
all deaths for males aged 15 to 19 years was suicide; 27.1% for ages
20 to 24 years & 24.2% for those aged 25 to 29.
Males are at statistically greater risk than females,
particularly as they relate to the age groups of League players. Of the 2.101
deaths by suicide in 2005, nearly 80% were males.
is important to assess the ethnic background of an individual due to cultural
beliefs & lifestyle and the potential social alienation & demarcation
that can be occur.
Statistics indicate the higher levels of drug & alcohol
abuse, depression & other mental illness & higher rates of suicide in
those of aboriginal origin.
Level of Academic Achievement:
level of academic achievement indicates statistically that drug & alcohol
abuse, antisocial personalities and mental illness per se are more likely in
those with lower than average results or those whose educational performance is poor. This is not a ‘slur’ on
those who have not achieved or any guarantee that an individual is of less worth
or likely to become unwell, it is simply a statistic that research has indicated
as being relevant. There are real issues pertaining to educational achievement
and these relate to an individual’s capacity for problem solving and
implementation of coping strategies. Growth, development & maturity are pertinent as are the
social aspects to one’s transition through this particular developmental
Displacement from region of origin
Displacement from home refers to a player’s geographical
re-location to join a club. Factors to be taken into consideration are: (1)
rural to metropolitan (2) distance (3) age (4) overseas origin. These variables
contribute to the degree of risk possible. This point should not be trivialized
by considering it to be simply ‘homesickness’ – it is far more complex and far
reaching than merely geographical adjustment or emotional
Recent studies have indicated an increased risk of developing
Depression later in life when a player has experienced concussion; particularly
if there have been repeated occasions when this has occurred. Remember, the
majority of concussions go largely undetected. LOC (loss of consciousness) does
not have to be present for concussion to have occurred.
History of Injury or Illness:
Injury & illness impact on an individual’s mental state,
particularly sportspeople. Obviously head injuries need to be taken into
consideration, but other illnesses & injuries can affect how someone
perceives themselves, their future & their career. It also relates to an
individual’s capacity to handle stress & pressures and can impinge upon
their problem solving abilities.
Family history of Depression or Suicide:
Genetic predisposition &
learned behaviour through
developmental stages have been shown to increase the possibility of
Depression &/or Suicide. Studies have suggested those with a family
history of Depression and/or Suicide are more likely to develop depression or
Family History of Mental
with Depression & Suicide, the increased possibility of other mental illness
such as Schizophrenia is
statistically proven when there is a family history of such an
History of Criminality, Aggression or
Mental Illness is often a concurrent issue for those with a
criminal history including, but not exclusively, aggression or violence.
Similarly, a family history of criminality, aggression and/or violence should be
taken into consideration.
History of Drug &/or
times, a history of Drug & Alcohol abuse is indicative of limited or poor
coping skills. Being primarily ‘depressive’ in nature, these substances can
contribute to the development of Depression. Damage to cognitive functioning as a result of abuse can
limit an individual’s capacity to implement appropriate problem solving
strategies and, in itself, incline the individual to develop
Abuse, be it physical, sexual, psychological or emotional, is
a strong precipitant or root cause for the development of mental illness.
Illnesses such as Chronic Depression, Bipolar
Disorders and the manifestation of self harming, risk taking behaviours
are but a few of the possible mental health outcomes of abuse. The risk of
suicide is higher for those who have experienced such abuse as is the use and
abuse of Drugs & Alcohol.
There is a very real correlation between Depression &
Suicide for those who are experiencing serious relationship difficulties. These
may also apply to divorce & child custody issues. Drug & Alcohol abuse
can often be linked to problems in relationships; either as a contributing,
causative factor or as a ‘self medicating’ maladaptive coping
Whilst one may question the relevance of this, the fact
remains that parents are a highly significant
part of a persons’ life. Their behaviour & ‘role modelling’ combined with
hereditary factors have helped make you who you are. As such, the status of
their relationship can have a huge bearing on you as a person, how you view
yourself, others & the world in general and your relationships. It is an
area that links very well with the previous ‘Relationship Difficulties’ risk
Suicide ('it affects
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& Self Harm
Should you have concerns regarding any issue
relating to your 'mental or physical
off' strongly recommend you seek professional assistance. This
may entail contacting your GP or similar clinician (Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counsellor etc.). You may
also contact the appropriate agency or service that might assist you. Irrespective of your
choice, ensure you see someone who might help.
10 Celebrities Who Attempted Suicide Before They Made It
The celebrities listed below have all had a measure of success in their chosen
fields, with some going on to reach superstar status.
All of that, however, wouldn’t have happened had their attempts at offing
themselves before hitting the big time were as successful as the ones that took the lives of many other celebs.
Talk about second chances.
Guess they’re just luckier than those other celebrities who died young.
1. Brigitte Bardot
Bardot has tried to end her life several times, the first of which was when she
was a teenager refused permission by her parents to marry film director Roger Vadim until she
was 18. She eventually married and divorced Vadim, who launched Bardot to international renown in his 1956 film
And God Created Woman.
2. Peter Fonda
Fonda was 10 years old when he shot himself in the stomach with a .22 pistol in
1950, just a few months after the suicide of his own mother.
3. Ozzy Osbourne
The “Godfather of Heavy Metal” has admitted to several suicide attempts, even
when he was a teenager.
4. Tuesday Weld
This Emmy- and Oscar-nominated actress had a nervous breakdown at age nine, was
an alcoholic by age 12, and tried to kill herself at around the same time by taking
aspirin and sleeping pills and chasing them down with a bottle of
5. Billy Joel
Depression brought about by the failure of his
band Attila drove Joel, then in his early twenties, to drink furniture polish, which he said
“looked tastier than bleach”.He of course survived, and went on to become the sixth best-selling recording artist
in the United States according to the RIAA. *on a 'sad note', Billy Joel's daughter 'Alexa' recently attempted
suicide....genetic?..check out the 'Mental Health
Articles' section of our site for links regarding her particular situation & the circumstances
6. Drew Carey
Long before The Drew Carey Show, Whose Line Is It
Anyway? and The Price is Right made him a household name, Carey made two
suicide attempts as a teenager, and both attempts are blamed on a very rough childhood where he was, by his
admission, sexually molested.
7. Jennifer O’Neill
O’Neill was 14 when she tried to kill herself. There was another incident in 1982
when she shot herself in the abdomen with a gun belonging to her then husband, but she claims it was
8. Greg Louganis
A serious knee injury at the age
of 12 that dashed his hopes of becoming an Olympic gymnast drove Louganis to try to commit suicide three times. He
survived and went on to become the greatest Olympic diver the world has ever seen.
9. Ginger Lynn
The top porn star of the 1980s tried to kill herself at the age of 12 by taking a
bunch of various medicines. She claimed she did it to get away from the constant abuse inflicted by her mother.
In 1996, Eminem took more than a dozen Tylenol after being dumped by on-again, off-again wife Kim Mathers. Three years
later, his first major studio album, The Slim Shady LP, became one of the biggest-selling albums
Please click on the following links
for information relating to:
Parasuicide & Self Harm
Suicide Facts & Statistics