Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Sad death may help people talk

The fact that Gary Speed so calmly appeared on Football Focus on Saturday and by Sunday was dead, a suspected suicide, was greeted by bewilderment by football fans.

We still hold to a stereotype that you can tell someone who is mentally unwell just by how they look. The Press presents dangerous psychotics as regularly wielding samurai swords in local high streets. The majority of people who are mentally unwell look like you and me.

What was going on in Gary Speed's head and why could he not talk to anyone about how he was feeling? Admitting anxiety, unhappiness or depression is often not acceptable in a culture which demands we grin and bear it.

I hope last weekend's sad event allows footballers and fans alike to be able to focus on mental health and wellbeing, to enable men (and women) to talk about their feelings - the good, the bad and the ugly.

LIZ LARKIN

By e-mail

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