OSU Addressing Student Athlete Mental Health Concerns

Three female college athletes have committed suicide since March. A Stanford University soccer player, a University of Wisconsin track runner, and, most recently, a catcher for the James Madison University softball team. Following these tragedies, the collegiate athletics community in the past year, more attention is being devoted to student athletes’ mental health. 

According to Fernando Frias, a certified psychologist and director of Oregon State University’s Sports Psychology Services, Athletes have a stigma that often undermines the many pressures they face.  

“They are not robots, they are people who have vulnerabilities,” said Frias in an interview with KEZI. “People on the outside looking [in] sometimes might have a hard time imagining the difficulty of the struggle. When we peel that back, we begin to understand the pressure – the immense pressure faced by many of our student athletes.” Frias seeks to close the gap between student athletes and the rest of the student body at OSU and believes that can be accomplished through “More trainings for student athletes themselves, working with our leadership committees with our various teams.” 

Frias has recently witnessed a surge in the number of athletes seeking help for mental health difficulties. Early intervention and identification of potential issues when student-athletes arrive on campus are two more suggestions for helping with this problem Frias shared during his interview.  

Suicide is the third most common cause of death in college-aged people and the second most common cause of death among college students. NCAA players appear to have a lower suicide rate than the general and collegiate population of similar age. 

Male NCAA athletes commit suicide at a considerably higher rate than female athletes, with football players appearing to be the most vulnerable, according to a 9-year study of 477 student athletes. 

If you’re a student and have suicidal thoughts, consult with Counseling and Psychological Services by calling 541-737-2131. 

If you or someone you know has suicidal ideations, please seek help.  

Call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255, or the Benton County Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 1-888-232-7192. 

At your computer? Check out the Oregon Suicide Hotline at  www.suicide.org/hotlines/oregon-suicide-hotlines.html 

You can also attend a Support Group in Corvallis. Find details here –  www.suicide.org/support-groups/oregon-suicide-support-groups.html 

By Lisa Hernandez