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Are The Tabloids And PFA Glamourising Gary Speed’s Suicide?

by | 2nd, December 2011

CAN the Sun turn Gary Speed’s death into a campaign?

Well, it can try to.

The headline runs:

Gary Speed suicide: 
Aces confess own troubles – 50,000 footie stars get depression guide

No, not a guide to getting depressed. You can’t catch it. But “footie stars” – 50,000 of them! – are being taught about depression. Get a lod of those “aces” who suffer from the illness.

Alex West and Lee Price write:

FIFTY thousand football stars have been sent a guide on tackling depression following Gary Speed’s suicide.

Because all footballers are glamourous “stars”.

But – hold on! -we do not know that Gary Speed suffered from depression.

The Professional Footballers’ Association has dispatched the booklet to past and present players to help them beat the blues.

The blues? No. Depression is an illness. The Sun is downplaying the very thing is is grandstanding on.

Good that the PFA is looking after its members. But why now. The booklet was sent out at the start of the season to 4,000 members.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor says:

“There has been a tremendous outpouring of emotion this week, an indication that Gary was regarded as one of our finest

“This booklet went out at the beginning of the season after the deaths of Robert Enke and Dale Roberts, and after what has happened with Gary we have decided to widen its circulation and let people know there is a support system out there for them to turn to. Mental problems have to be treated with understanding. Players can have panic attacks, fail to come terms with leaving football, finishing as a player, or the pressures of being a manager. We want to do all we can to try to avoid another tragedy like this.”

Erm. How can you avoid an other suicide when you do know what happened? By all means look after the wellbeing of your members, but there is no need to use Gary Speed to do so. Do not glamourise him.

The Sun then says:

The booklet… urges players to seek help from their club doctor if they are feeling down.

Feeling down? Feeling down is not depression. Feeling down is something any of can suffer from on any given day. Depression is an illness.

The NHS website says:

We all go through spells of feeling down, but when you’re depressed, you feel persistently sad for weeks or months rather than just a few days. Some people still think that depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They’re wrong. Depression is a real illness with real symptoms…

And – get this – we do not know if Gary Speed suffered from it. Depression is not some automatic trigger to thoughts of suicide. It is not something unique to the “finest ” footy aces”. The papers are playing a dangerous game. They may even be putting ideas into people’s heads…

Gary Speed was the manager of Wales. He played for Leeds United, Newscastle United, Everton, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United. He was 42.

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Chris Fairclough, Jon Newsome and Gary Speed celebrate Jon Newsome's goal



Posted: 2nd, December 2011 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink