We all go through stages of feeling like crap, inadequate and alone, but for some men there seems to be only one way to deal with it.....suicide.
A few years ago I used to play for an ice hockey team called the Blackburn Falcons. We were rubbish for a few years to start off with and then got better, eventually starting to challenge for some silverware. We trained on a Monday night at stupid o'clock and I remember being in the changing rooms on a typically miserable evening in Blackburn when a lad walked in who none of us had ever met before. He had very short dark hair, was covered in tattoos and had a very distinctive piercing on the bridge of his nose. This was Rob.
At first we all had our reservations about him, he hardly spoke, he wasn't very good, didn't really fit in and was a bit of an outsider. I remember one of the lads cracked a joke and Rob started to laugh. It was such an unusual noise, falling somewhere between nervous and the laugh of a stoner which never the less made us all smile. As time goes by, Rob is still turning up to training, still working hard to improve on the ice and starting to open up around the team and chat with us all. By this point he was a regular member of training and signs with the team.
Ice hockey changing rooms can be the male equivalent of mums in the school playground waiting to pick up their kids, there are clicks between certain individuals as well as the slightly odd ones (which I would class myself as). Rob could deal with any person in any group and I would go as far as saying he helped bring the team together, not only off the ice but on it too. At games, tournaments, nights out... you name it Rob was there. Committed to the team that he had become a part of. His loyalty, hard work & perseverance proving to everyone that he was a brother within the hockey family.
This quiet, reserved person had blossomed into a key part of the team. Winning over people who including myself, were unsure about him at the start. He was so chatty, bubbly and was definitely a character who made anyone smile no matter how sad they were feeling.
Like any sport, there comes a time of change. Old faces leave and new ones appear but we all remain one strong community, no matter if we moved teams or stopped playing all together. That is why it was a huge shock to us all when we heard the tragic news that Rob had taken his own life and proves that no matter how happy a person may seem on the outside, you never know what is going on in their head.
Yes, ice hockey is a very physical and fast paced sport which demands a lot of the body and the mind but at the same time it creates memories & friendships with players/supporters from all different backgrounds which last a lifetime.
No one should ever have to consider taking their own life & Rob's demons cut his life short as well as ending his relationships with friends and family abruptly.
In the UK, 4 in 10 men admit they have considered committing suicide. 76% of all suicides were men in 2014 & the same report shown that men are 3 times more likely to end their life. Often its the blokes who you would least expect to take their own life and that came all but evident for me and my friends in the "hockey family".
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Ian's For Forty Four
I am raising awareness for Campaign Against Living Miserably because if you're feeling down, you are not alone.
We provide a helpline, and campaign to help prevent male suicide in the UK.
Charity Registration No. 1110621