College Athletes and Suicide Prevention: A Collaborative Autoethnography

Kim D. Gross – University of Southern California
Lisa M. Rubin – Kansas State University
Anne P. Weese – Kansas State University

This collaborative autoethnography weaves together a personal and powerful story from a former college athlete turned student-athlete services professional with reflections from a licensed mental health counselor who works with student-athletes. Kim shared her own struggles with mental health as well as her initially unknowing impact on a teammate, who sought her support when contemplating suicide. Information about depression and suicide among college athletes is presented along with practical ways and resources for anyone who might work with student-athletes to know. Developing skills to talk to student-athletes about suicide is one method for professionals to participate in supporting the mental health of student-athletes and prevent suicide. Many barriers prevent college athletes from asking for help. Professionals must practice questions to ask student-athletes and ways to start the difficult conversation about suicide. The Mental Health Toolbox is introduced as a resource for this purpose.