Suicidal behaviour is a concern when considering mood disorders. Risk factors amongst athletes include: substance abuse, retirement from sport, eating disorders, anabolic steroid use, family history of suicide, homosexuality and sexual abuse. Other risk factors could include injury, injury requiring surgery or a lengthy rehabilitation process, inability to regain pre-injury success, post-concussive syndrome and replacement by teammates.

Between 3500-4000 Canadians of all ages, from all walks of life die by suicide annually. Still the stigma surrounding suicide prevents people from getting help. Baum’s (2005) review of literature from 1960-2000 revealed 71 cases of athletes (average age 22 yrs.) who contemplated, attempted or completed suicide (66 completed suicide).

Possible Signs of Suicidal Behaviour

Physical Symptoms:

  • Giving away prized possessions or putting personal affairs in order
  • Loss of interest in friends, hobbies or previously enjoyed activities
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Sudden change in appearance or behaviour

Psychological Symptoms:

  • Expressing negative comments about self
  • Expressing intent to die by suicide and having a plan to do so
  • Expressing suicidal thoughts
  • Telling final wishes to someone
  • Repeated expression of hopelessness, helplessness or desperation

Types of Mental Health Problems

Disorder Disclaimer

The following are mental health problems (as defined by Reardon and Factor, 2010; Gardner and Moore, 2006; Mental Health Commission of Canada – Mental Health First Aid Canada, 2011).

Supporting ‘red flag’ examples are also provided to initiate the awareness and early detection of mental health problems. Please note this is not an exhaustive list, but a breakdown of some common mental health problems and the corresponding physical and psychological symptoms to look out for.