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FIFPro's thoughts are with Clarke Carlisle, the former professional footballer and ex-chairman of the English Professional Footballers' Association, who is involved in a serious battle with depression.

Yesterday, Wednesday February 4th, Carlisle unveiled in an exclusive interview with British daily The Sun that he recently had tried to commit suicide, in an effort to 'solve' all his problems.

 

 "I had to die. This wasn't escaping or running away. This was the perfect answer."

"Everyone will be better off if I wasn't here."

 

Carlisle is not alone in his fight with mental illness. A FIFPro study among current and retired professional footballers from Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland and the United States found that 39% of retired professional footballers are suffering from mental illness, while 26% of active professional footballers reported signs of anxiety and depression.

Following this successful pilot-study, FIFPro Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vincent Gouttebarge PhD started a larger international study about symptoms of common mental disorders among both current and former professional footballers. Gouttebarge began this research in April 2014 in collaboration with sports medicine expert professor Gino Kerkhoffs (Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam) and former FIFA Medical Committee member professor Haruhito Aoki (St. Marianna University School of Medicine, Kawasaki).

The still ongoing study (expected to end in November 2015) involves around 900 footballers (600 current and 300 retired players) from 13 countries across four continents: Belgium, Cameroon, Chile, DR Congo, Finland, France, Japan, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. In all countries, FIFPro's member unions will assist with the research.

Thanks to this large study – the first of its kind -, Dr. Gouttebarge and his team will be able to gain further insight to the extent of mental illness in professional football, but also in the potential causes that might induce symptoms of common mental disorders both during and after a football career.

Gouttebarge explains: "For instance, information about the relation of severe injuries, surgeries, concussions or educational level with mental illness will be gathered. Also, the question whether players reporting symptoms of common mental disorders are more likely to be subsequently injured than players without symptoms of common mental disorders will be explored, as well as the long term effects of concussions on mental illness."

Clarke Carlisle survived his suicide attempt, which came after an 18-month battle with depression. He only suffered cuts, bruises, internal bleeding, a broken rib and a shattered left knee. Since that moment, he has received treatment in a psychiatric unit, until he was discharged last Friday, January 30th.

Currently, Carlisle is undergoing counselling to help him battle his depression, which was mainly caused by his inability to deal with the end of his career, and financial problems. As the 36-year old former Premier League player said: "My road to recovery will be eternal."

Carlisle told his story in an effort to give hope to other players coping with mental health problems, and to encourage them to seek help.

 

Also read:

Depression highly prevalent in footballers
Study: Mental Illness In Professional Football
Factors contributing to mental illness

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