Drew Robinson: Suicide Survivor Drew Robinson Becomes Mental Health Advocate
On May 10th, 2021, Drew Robinson hit a home run.
A newly signed outfielder with the Triple-A league Sacramento River Cats, Robinson got his run in a game against his hometown team, the Las Vegas Aviators. Although the River Cats ended up losing the game 11-10, Robinson’s hit received major news coverage for one remarkable fact:
It was his first home run since a suicide attempt by gun in 2020.
Coming Back From The Brink
In a lengthy profile with ESPN.com, Robinson details what led up to his attempt in April 2020. First entering the world of professional baseball at 18, Robinson joined a demanding world of high expectations and higher pressures.
The pressures escalated into serious self-doubt. Robinson spent time playing for the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals, dealing with trades, several demotions, and several injuries.
Despite attempts at therapy sessions, his self-doubt and frustration continued to grow. In 2020, not long after Robinson signed a non-guaranteed contract with the San Francisco Giants, COVID-19 effectively shut down major league baseball.
The resulting isolation and ongoing pressures led to Robinson attempting to take his own life with a handgun.
Amazingly, he survived.
Despite losing his right eye and his sense of taste and smell, Robinson has done more than rebound athletically – he has emerged from his attempt with a newfound sense of purpose. He participates in therapy by himself and with family, he keeps a journal of his thoughts and speaks openly about his experiences in person.
Last fall, during Suicide Prevention Day, Robinson addressed the Giants about his experience and the importance of talking to someone if you’re in crisis. “I remember having this thought in my head: That is the toughest guy I’ve ever met,” said Giants outfielder Alex Dickerson to ESPN.
Robinson’s rebound is much more than a feel-good story: his experience illustrates that there’s always a way out, especially if you ask for help.
Believe it or not, the COVID outbreak illustrates that point.
Social Cohesion a COVID Side Effect?
In 2020, something interesting happened. Despite the relentless bad news, social unrest, and personal losses which marked that year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered the US suicide rate actually went down nearly 6 percent. It’s especially surprising, given rates of substance abuse, mental disorders and opioid overdoses all saw unfortunate climbs … along with gun sales.
And yet, the suicide rate went down. Why?
According to medical news site Healthline, some experts see crises as uniting factors which, instead of inspiring isolation and worry, inspire cohesion and a sense of belonging. Also, the crisis seems to have made people reflect on what’s truly important to them.
“Community cohesion and sense of belonging is a very potent protective factor against suicide risk,” said Christine Yu Moutier, MD, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, to Healthline.
These two stories aren’t just pieces of inspiring news after an awful year: They both illustrate the importance of seeking help during tough times, whether they’re being experienced by an individual or society at large.
Talking it Out: Why Therapy Matters
“Psychotherapy” is an unpleasant-sounding word to some, but all it means is “talk therapy.” In psychotherapy, a person struggling with emotional issues, mental disorders and/or addiction talks to a trained professional about their problems.
A psychotherapist helps their patients learn new ways of managing their problems and behaviors, helping them to understand and deal with the underlying issues which may be driving their illness and addiction.
It seems to work, too: the American Psychological Association reports nearly 75% of patients who participate in psychotherapy benefit from it.
Therapy is a critical element of substance treatment for one simple reason: sadly, suicide often goes hand-in-hand with untreated substance abuse.
Why Professional Treatment Is So Important
The Department of Health & Human Services cites a study showing lower minimum-age drinking laws seemed to go along with higher suicide rates in a youth group aged between 18 and 20.
Meanwhile, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center examines a study of data taken over a 13-year period from health care systems in the Mental Health Research Network. They discovered all substance use disorders – alcohol, drugs, and tobacco – were “significantly associated” with suicides, even after adjusting the data for demographics and health.
Drew Robinson and the surprising decline of suicides during the outbreak both illustrate how important intervention is in treating substance abuse and mental disorders. Without a community of caring professionals to rely on, disorders can spiral out of control into tragedy. Fortunately, there is always a positive way out; drug and alcohol treatment centers provide an essential lifeline to anyone in crisis.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 1-800-273-8255. If you or a loved one needs help, call it now.
The Edge Treatment Center provides a holistic, dynamic environment for our clients, using evidence-based treatment to help them reach their full potential in new, healthy lives. Want to know more? Contact us below.
Photo: CBS Sports