In February this year, Australians were shocked to learn that Rugby great, Dan Vickerman, had taken his own life at just 37. It wasn’t the first time that the rugby community had lost one of their own.
The inaugural Rick Tyrrell Cup was held this year to remember Rick, the well-known and much-loved Queensland rugby player who died at the age of 39 after a battle with depression.
Eight of his closest friends organised the event to start a conversation about mental health issues among rugby players.
"Footballers who received a concussion were eight times more likely to report symptoms of depression."
“The hardest thing for me has been thinking that I could talk to him and that, for some reason, he couldn't talk to me,” said, Joey, an old mate of Rick's.
A recent study of Western Australian footballers has found that footballers who received a concussion were eight times more likely to report symptoms of depression within two weeks of the incident – and the link between depression and suicide is well-established.
In 2014, Kirby Sefo was offered a full-time contract by the Australian Rugby Union to play for a national Rugby 7s team. The emotional and financial strain of playing professional football forced her to walk away from her dream job.
“Our whole goal is to have a mental health first aid trainer at every single club in Brisbane."
She says of her experience, “If you break your leg, there's a process: you go to rehab, return to play and then you carry on. When your mind is broken, to me it felt like well, ‘You just go and deal with that and when you're good come back’.”
This culture of sucking it up and getting on with it is what Michael, an organiser of the Rick Tyrrell Cup, wants to stamp out.
“Our whole goal is to have a mental health first aid trainer at every single club in Brisbane. We have physios, we have first aid responders, but we do not have someone looking out for the players’ mental health.”
If you are feeling stressed out and woud like to talk to someone about it, please get in touch with these organisations:
Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 www.mensline.org.au