Thoughts On ‘Football’s Suicide Secret’

For those of you who haven’t already twigged, this is the latest in my instalments of ‘Thoughts On: BBC3’s It’s A Mad World Season’.

I was in two minds about whether or not to write something about this as I know absolutely nothing about football- however in the end I decided that I was going to be a good blogger and give it a go, after all, what’s life but a massive learning curve?

I thought the programme was very interesting and potentially useful due to its focus on men and mental illness- stigma generally affects men more than women due to the ‘tough guy’ image that most blokes feel forced into living up to and as most men (please forgive my generalisations here!) look up to footballers as their role models it would have been very beneficial for them to see them talking openly about psychiatric problems.

I’m honestly kind of annoyed that this programme didn’t get better advertising- it was on the day after the last episode of ‘Don’t Call Me Crazy’ and so was kind of overshadowed by it. I think that they should have waited a little while before showing it and done some better publicity, getting men to open up about mental illness is a hard job and something that this programme could really help with- but that was really my only disappointment.

Like I said before, I know almost nothing about football, but what little I gleaned from watching the programme lead me to draw parallels with acting and careers in the performing arts industry.

Both are high pressure with little chance of overall success; however I think that the world of football is much more unrealistic. Actors know (or should know) that they have little chance of succeeding- from what I gathered about football academies it seems that they encourage an unhealthy and unrealistic level of optimism.

As well as this footballers have incredibly short careers than can easily go wrong- I can keep on acting for pretty much as long as I live, there will always be parts for me, and probably more parts the older I get as others drop out and I have less competition- but footballers only have a limited time period in which they’re at their physical peak, something that only serves to increase the levels of stress that they must be under. Added onto this is the fact that those who do make it have very little control over their own lives, what they do, what they eat, who they talk to where they go…all of this sort of piles together to make the perfect storm.

In the last few years there have been several high profile football suicides- the programme argues that there isn’t enough being done to help sportspeople with mental illnesses and I completely agree- but then again I think that not enough is being done to help anyone who suffers from a mental illness.

After a tragedy there always seems to be a campaign to stop something similar from happening again… but that doesn’t seem to happen with suicides. It’s not because we can’t do anything to stop it- research has shown that when barriers are placed along popular suicide hotspots such as bridges to make it impossible to jump the suicide rate for the area drops… in other words, if people can’t kill themselves they don’t go somewhere else or find another method- they don’t do it.

Some of you may remember that a friend of mine killed herself before Christmas, every year my school nominate a charity to raise money for. Last year a student sadly died from (I believe) complications caused by his diabetes, so the school chose to raise money for Diabetes UK.

I’d put a hell of a lot of money on the fact that next year the school won’t be raising money for the Samaritans, or Mind or any other mental health charity… and that’s something that makes me furious beyond belief. We live in a society where these things just aren’t talked about- and by not talking about them we are killing people.

I don’t care how hard it is, I don’t care how scared you feel- we have to talk about mental illness and we have to talk about suicide because by pretending that it doesn’t exist we are costing people their lives and destroying families.

Thanks for reading, as always feel free to leave your thoughts below!

Wren x


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