The game of football has been known to change the lives of many athletes. It’s allowed many to acquire wealth that they could not have dreamed of. But the residual effects from the physically demanding sport can also have a negative effect on players’ mental health.
Just look at the amount of CTE cases and long-term bodily injuries players have when they hang up the cleats. The effects can be devastating, and while UCLA offensive lineman Cole Thomas hasn’t been diagnosed with CTE, he’s stepping away from the game at an early age after a failed attempt to take his life earlier this year.
— Thomas Cole (@ThomasCole_SLO) June 21, 2020
The former three-star freshman recruit, had this to say via UCLA’s website:
“Concluding that (football) is not conducive for my mental health.”
Cole is walking away from a sport that he loves and has played all his life in order to focus on his mental health. Thomas posted a touching message for anyone who may be battling with suicidal thoughts.
“You are not alone, and you are loved. It is OK to ask for help. Thank you to my family for being so loving during this process of learning to live again.”
UCLA football player Thomas Cole announces his retirement following a suicide attempt in January. Read his words. It will save lives. ⬇️
If you are in crisis and need help right now, call or text 988 in the US. https://t.co/5qbpyNG5LF
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) July 16, 2022
Thomas Attempted To End His Life In First Year At UCLA
Thomas didn’t play a single game for the Bruins last season as he quietly struggled with his own mental health. It was a battle he nearly lost as he attempted suicide. Thomas initially admitted in a Twitter post that he regrets surviving the attempt on his life. But after recollection and reflection, he had some nice things to say about those who helped him in his time of trouble.
“But thankfully due to the people at the UCLA hospital, Paradigm residential treatment, and my therapist Meg, I have come to a much brighter outlook on my own future,” Cole wrote.
One that won’t include football, but that’s OK. Cole even thanked his teammates and coaches for their unwavering support.
“These men brought me so much joy and laughter in a time of immense personal suffering. For those friendships I am forever thankful.
“I will forever cheer the on the Bruins and wish the program nothing but success.”
— UCLA Football (@UCLAFootball) September 5, 2021
Thomas Taking His Mental Health Seriously Is A Welcome Sight
We’ve seen athletes struggle mentally and physically but keep those problems inside with no way to express themselves or deal with the problem, which often leads to the athlete reaching a breaking point. Thomas did, as evinced by his attempt to kill himself. Now, with a second chance on life, he’s focused on himself and giving up the game he loves. It’s not often that athletes are able to compartmentalize their personal needs and separate their own well-being from the demands and expectations of the team.
In this instance, Thomas was lucky that he survived his suicide attempt and was able to cope with his health before his condition deteriorated further.
If only many others were able to do that before it was too late, and especially those who suited up on the gridiron.