Lee Collins: The Tragic Suicide Of The Yeovil Town Star And The Impact Of Mental health On Football

Lee Collins was a professional football player who played for Yeovil Town FC, which plays in the National League (English fifth division). Lee Collins died of suicide by hanging. His body was found in a hotel room in West Coker. When the body of Lee Collins was found, his cause of death wasn’t certain. However, the police stressed that there wasn’t anything suspicious associated with the defeat. In this post, we will find out more about Lee Collins and the general impact of mental health on football players. We will tackle Lee Collins’ case, and also look at other footballers who had mental health issues.

Lee Collins: A Tragic End To A Promising Life

What did Yeovil Town say about Lee Collins’ death?

“The entire Yeovil Town Football Club is mourning the loss of club captain Lee Collins. Lee sadly passed away yesterday [Wednesday] and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,” read a statement from the player’s last team.

Likewise, other football groups extended their condolences at the death of Collins. For its part, the National League, the fifth English category, announced the postponement of Yeovil Town FC’s next match against Altrincham.

When did Lee Collins join Yeovil Town?

Lee Collins had worn the shirt of his current club since 2019. He played his last game as a member of Yeovil Town FC on February 6, but he was on the bench during the victorious game against Barnet FC, recovering from an injury that prevented him from participating for a large part of the season.

How did Lee Collins die?

Lee Collins died by suicide on March 31st, 2021. His body was found in his hotel room where he had hanged himself to death. The staff of the Lanes Hotel at West Coker discovered his body. He was 32 years old at the time of death. After his death was confirmed, Yeovil Town postponed its game against Altrincham out of respect. Yeovil’s two games against Aldershot Town and Maidenhead United were also postponed. The loyal fans of Port Vale also raised 2,450 pounds for Collins’ family.

During an inquest into Collins’ death from April 2021 to July 2021, the coroner had recorded a suicide verdict. During the inquest, it was discussed that he had been a heavy drinker for a decade. At the time of his suicide, Lee Collins was also under the influence of cocaine and alcohol. Lee Collins also had a gambling addiction and was struggling to cope with the loss of his partner. 

How important is mental health for professional athletes?

Santiago “Morro” García had warned in various interviews, where he stated that his sporting slumps might have to do with his state of mind. Already in 2019, he had revealed his suffering in a talk with Radio Nihuil: “I had personal problems that influenced my performance; It wasn’t easy. I want to be the goalscorer again and feel good. We are not robots, we are not made of steel, things happen to us and that means that the performance on the playing field is not optimal,” he said at the time. And he added: “These are things that you don’t know, but when you live them from within, everything has a reason.” 

However, his death, on February 4, 2021, exposed the multiple professional shortcomings that at that time surrounded most of the Argentine soccer teams. Despite being under psychiatric treatment, nothing could change the sad fate of the Uruguayan striker. However, it opened the doors to a discussion that the most popular sport in the world owed itself to the importance of sports psychology in professional teams.

People’s mental health is very important, and sport is not exempt, because although it seems obvious, athletes are people, some seem to forget that and always demand perfection. In sports, the presence of a mental health professional is very important. Although a difference must be made between clinical and sports psychology. The first intervenes from a psychotherapeutic approach, and the second intervenes to achieve efficiency in human behavior, not being able to ignore mental health. 

The intervention methodology is varied and subject to each group and athlete, although it’s also suggested to start with a cognitive and psychological evaluation, and from there generate an intervention plan, which usually begins, in team sports, with the generation of a vision, and then with an adequate establishment of objectives.

For an athlete to work on the emotional part is key. Today, the athlete needs to be well focused, especially if they are performing in high pressure scenarios because the activity generates stress. This puts all the athlete’s abilities to the limit.

When we push our abilities to the limit, it requires us to be 100%. And when they are going through particular situations, they are fixated on the sport. It is there, where the sports psychology approach is key.

Leandro Díaz, a professional footballer from Argentina surprised everyone in an interview when he talked about his situation. “I have been fighting depression for a year and a half. Here at my club, they trusted me and the club doctors helped me. When you have depression, I think you have to talk about it, “confessed ‘Loco’. And he continued: “One day the doctors grabbed me, they talked to me and I began to treat myself. The rest came along and now things are given to me. The topic is difficult when you don’t count it. I had the help I needed at the right time. Then I started dating, I let go and I was able to show that I could play here”.

Today, FIFA advises and calls for sports psychologists to exist in professional and youth football, something that also exists in tennis. “All coaches have sports psychology as a subject. Today it is a necessity”, said FIFA.

When it comes to mental health issues in professional athletes, it is essential to detect the signs on time and to provide therapeutic support. It is important to know how to observe and quickly find help.

Seeking perfectionism in everything we do is also something to keep in mind. It is important to avoid negative thinking and self-demand. Depression is multifactorial: it has a social relationship and a personal one.

It would be utopian to think that a player takes off the person’s backpack and puts on the player’s. To think that you cannot have a bad day is to deify the athlete, not to allow mistakes. It’s a mistake. You have to work to provide them with tools, so that in their daily situations they can develop in the best way.

The clubs, from the leadership, technical bodies, and health professionals, have the responsibility of detecting and offering unconditional help to players who are going through a mental health crisis.

And although for many, sport is not synonymous with health, a successful athlete’s situation is not always ideal. Obligations, loneliness, and self-demand become a difficult cocktail to handle. It’s extremely important for an athlete’s mental health to be taken seriously. The world must work together to ensure that tragic cases like Lee Collins’ suicide don’t occur again. 

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