Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rick Rypien, depression, The Toronto Star and Mike Woods

Rick Rypien's death at 27 is a tragic story, and one that's resonated with a lot of people. Hundreds headed to Rogers Arena for an impromptu memorial Wednesday, while his teammates in Winnipeg mournedtreatment programs and the role of fighting came to the surface. Information on what exactly happened to Rypien is still scanty, but for many of us, his death brought back memories of athletes who battled depression and wound up taking their own lives, such as Kenny McKinley and Dave Duerson.

We don't know yet if depression led to Rypien's death, but it's played a major role in the deaths of others. Before Rypien's death, Sports Illustrated's Pablo S. Torre wrote an excellent piece in this week's magazine on the suicides of Duerson, former San Jose Shark Tom Cavanaugh, former New York Yankee Hideki Irabu, American Olympic skier Speedy Peterson, former Duke basketball captain Thomas Emma and Austrian Olympic judoka Claudia Heill, and how they raise larger issues of how we look at depression in sports. Bruce Arthur had a great column on the same subject, but expanded it to life in general, and that's a conversation we absolutely need to have as a society. Depression is still heavily stigmatized, but it's hit more people than you think. I've had my own struggles with depression in the past, and it's not an easy monster to lick at all. It's a problem we have to take seriously, and it's something where we have to figure out a way to support the people affected.