Baseball Player Suicide
by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
Once focus of American Mental Health Foundation this past year has been to increase awareness and research of suicide. We have done this through our support of Suicide Prevention International.
Recently ex-major-league pitcher Hideki Irabu was found dead in his home in California. He had apparently committed suicide by hanging himself. What made this even sadder was that his body remained undiscovered for several days. A man who lived under the gaze of 40,000 people at a time died a solitary death.
Evander Lomke offers some good thoughts about Hideki in his baseball blog Right Off the Bat Book.
I have just finished reading The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract.
Although I didn’t do a count, nor did I make any formal comparisons with other decades, there seemed to be an an inordinately high number of major-league suicides during the decades 1900-1930. I hope sometimes to look at this more closely.
Perhaps Hideki Irabu’s death can lead us to further reflection on the post-athletic career lives of men and women, not only in the professional leagues but other levels as well. It must be very difficult to go from a life with attention and adulation to one where these are absent. (Former player Doug Granville also addresses this in his book The Game From Where I Stand.)
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and all those who knew Hideki Irabu.