The Chief Executive of Aware Defeat Depression has described former Derry City F.C. star, Liam Coyle, as brave for talking about his struggle with depression.
Speaking after the 46 year-old former Derry City striker spoke about his own depression in a radio interview this week, Siobhan Doherty, Chief Executive of the Derry-based charity Aware Defeat Depression said it was “encouraging” to hear someone of Liam Coyle’s standing in society talk openly about mental health.
“It is very encouraging that someone of the stature of Liam Coyle has spoken so openly about his own depression. It is a big step for anyone who has suffered from depression to talk about their own mental health so publicly but by doing so Liam Coyle is helping to reduce the stigma that is still associated with mental illness and depression.
“His story will encourage others to talk about depression and mental health and that can only be a positive step.
“Life changing events, like the career threatening injury suffered by Liam, can have a massive impact on the mental health of athletes. That is something we are currently addressing through our work with SportNI and the Public Health Agency, delivering our Mood Matters programme to sports clubs across Northern Ireland.
“The programme educates athletes on the importance of good mental health and focuses on risk factors sign and symptoms, treatments, self-help strategies and sources of help.”
Mr. Coyle admitted on BBC Radio Foyle on Tuesday that he even thought about taking his own life at the age of 22 after suffering a serious knee injury.
“I’d gone from all those highs to having the rug pulled from underneath me. Once I stopped playing for Derry City I went on a downward spiral that I just couldn’t get out of for a year and a half,” he said.
“I was just spiralling, going deeper and deeper, there was no easy way of getting up every morning and saying this was going to be a different day.
“Then I thought about me mother you know, I thought about what it would do to her and I think that’s what stopped me.
“It’s strange because everybody thinks footballers are these strong, athletic young men with everything going for them but then you look at Gary Speed, you didn’t even see that coming.
“Clarke Carlisle has spoke about his depression for a long time and it just shows it can affect anyone.”
Ms. Doherty went on to urge anyone with depression not to suffer in silence.
“Finally we would urge anyone who is experiencing anxiety, stress or other symptoms of depression to contact our helpline on 08451 20 29 61. The helpline is open from Monday to Friday, 9am-1pm. You can also find information about depression and our services on our website, www.aware-ni.org.
“We would encourage anyone who is in distress or having suicidal feelings to try and speak to somebody, be that a friend or family member, their GP or to phone Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.”