by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
The October 9, 2011, New York Times once again brings to our attention the recent suicide of former New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu. Once again, we are reminded of the sadness of Irabu’s death as well as the need for greater research and understanding about suicide from groups such as Suicide Prevention International.
The New York Times writes:
“Irabu, for sure, had seemed to battle demons throughout his meteoric rise and fall. A No. 1 draft pick in Japan, he was best known for his record-setting fastball, and his temper off the field. Even during his best years in the mid-1990s, he had a love-hate relationship with the news media, which needled him by writing about his mixed heritage, a taboo in Japan. He called some Japanese reporters locusts. He was eager to play in the United States, but he bucked the baseball establishment by refusing to be traded to the San Diego Padres, despite their generous contract offer.
“Instead, he held out until the Yankees could sign him, and he received a hero’s welcome in New York. He twice was named the American League pitcher of the month, but he faded late in seasons. His moodiness, injuries and weight problems led George Steinbrenner to call him a fat toad, a stinging tag that he could not shake.”