Written by P. Humbargar
Edited by A. Noelle
Last week, high school senior and prep baseball superstar, Stephen Gant, was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, alongside a rural Tennessee road. A Yahoo! Sports article, “Prep baseball superstar, possible first-round MLB pick dies of mysterious apparent suicide,” reports that the young man had recently signed to play baseball for Vanderbilt, one of the nation’s most elite college baseball programs and was even a likely first-round draft pick in the upcoming MLB draft. When learning of tragedies such as this, two obvious questions come to mind. Why did this young athlete who appeared to have such a bright future ahead of him, choose to end his life? And can this type of heartbreaking loss be prevented in the future?
As time goes on, perhaps more information about the mental state of this young man will come to light, but for now, one can only speculate as to why Stephen saw suicide as the only solution to whatever problems he was confronting. Maybe there were warning signs that were overlooked; or maybe he hid his problems so well that no one was ever aware that anything was wrong—the true reasons behind his tragic death could very well remain a mystery.
As to the second question, the answer should be a resounding, “Yes.” There are actions that can be taken to prevent such tragedies in the future. The world of youth sports is highly competitive, and from early on, young athletes are taught that physical as well as mental toughness is expected in order to succeed. As a result, young athletes undoubtedly learn to hide quite well any problems they may be experiencing. Besides the necessity of removing the stigma of mental illness from society as whole, parents, teachers, coaches, and others involved in children’s lives can endeavor to always keep the lines of communication open and work at becoming more aware of subtle changes in behavior that could be signs of deep-seated problems. Whether children are involved in youth sports or not, the pressures of growing up in today’s society can sometimes seem insurmountable, and as adults, we can do our part to let them know that they do not have to face their problems alone.
If you’d like to read through the entire article on Yahoo.com, click here.
If you are concerned about a child who has been exhibiting signs of suicidal ideation or self-abuse, call this number: CHILD HELP USA (1-800-422-4453).