Promoting Hope, Preventing Suicide

Research and advice on preventing teen and adult suicide

Suicide in the NFL

What if it’s not about concussions?

I don’t watch Sunday Night Football. I really don’t pay much attention Bob Costas. But I was in the room during the halftime segment of Sunday Night Football on December 2, so I heard my husband when he said: “Bob Costas just rocked your world.”

It turned out it wasn’t exactly Bob Costas who rocked my world, but sports reporter Jason Whitlock, who was quoted by Costas during the broadcast. Costas used Whitlock’s words to address a subject that was most certainly on the minds of anyone watching football on Sunday (or even people like me, not-watching football): Kasandra Perkins’ murder by her Kansas City Chiefs boyfriend Jovan Belcher, who then went on to take his own life.

All day Sunday, I found myself frustrated with the media coverage of these deaths. I read and listened to so many people speculate on what caused Belcher to murder Perkins and then take his own life. Although many said that they had no idea why this tragedy happened, the answer seemed very simple to me.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

What Whitlock wrote - and what Costas shared with Sunday Night Football viewers - was something I wish I’d been able to put together myself:

“In the coming days, Belcher’s actions will be analyzed through the lens of concussions and head injuries. Who knows? Maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend. What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.

That is the message I wish Chiefs players, professional athletes and all of us would focus on Sunday and moving forward. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.”

Because I’ve been reluctant to put my own views about guns out for public consumption (and criticism, and ridicule), I’m that much more impressed with the risk Costas took by stating his views in the way that he did, at the time he chose, and in a very public forum. I applaud Whitlock for naming the elephant in the room and giving us all some language to begin to address what has occurred.

Yes, I’m sure there are factors other than access to a lethal weapon that led to this tragedy. But, even after accounting for all of those possibilities (something that I’m sure will happen in the coming days and weeks), it’s the gun that made the difference.

Copyright 2012 Elana Premack Sandler, All Rights Reserved

Elana Premack Sandler, L.C.S.W., M.P.H., is a public health social worker specializing in violence and injury prevention and adolescent health promotion.

more...

Subscribe to Promoting Hope, Preventing Suicide

Current Issue

Just Say It

When and how should we open up to loved ones?