Mark Rypien, the MVP of Super Bowl XXVI, revealed that he once attempted suicide as a result of mental health issues he believes originated from his days of playing football.
“I suffer from a complex stew of mental health conditions,” Rypien told Spokane, Wash., TV station KHQ. “Dark places, depression, anxiety, addictions, poor choices, poor decisions, brought about from dozens of concussions and thousands of subconcussive injuries from playing this sport.”
Rypien opened up on his mental health with both KHQ-TV and The Spokesman-Review in the hopes that sharing his story would help urge others to share theirs. He said the January suicide of Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski and the death of Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) High School principal Troy Schueller from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound earlier this month pushed him to speak out.
Rypien’s cousin, former NHL player Ryan Rypien, died in an apparent suicide in 2011 after years of struggling with depression.
“Let’s address this now,” Rypien said. “Let me share my story so others can share theirs. Let’s get rid of this silence that happens when you’re caught up in this cycle and you don’t know how to find the help I’ve been afforded. There are ways to get help. There’s great work going on in our community. But we need to team up and do more.
“My story is impactful because people see me in a different light. I want them to see me in an accurate light. I’ve been down the darkest path. I’ve made some horrible, horrible mistakes. But I’ve given myself a chance to progress forward.”
Rypien detailed a failed suicide attempt one year on the birthday of his younger daughter, Angie. He said he swallowed 150 Advil and washed them down with a bottle of Merlot and was saved when his wife Danielle found him and poured hydrogen peroxide and activated charcoal down his throat to get him to vomit the pills.
“It was the thought that people aren’t going to miss me,” Rypien said. “My life is as as it could ever be. I was shameful and guilty of poor decisions, shameful and guilty of being depressed all the time. I didn’t want to be around anymore. I didn’t look at how this would affect my kids, my grandkids, my wife, my family.”
Rypien shared several other dark stories from his years dealing with mental health issues, including visiting spas that were shut down as part of a prostitution sting in 2012 and a domestic violence dispute with his wife last November where she was arrested despite being the victim in an effort to protect him from being imprisoned.
The couple believes his outburst was caused by a change in his medications.
“They had warned us when they put him on it,” Danielle said. “We’re not talking about an antidepressant, we’re talking about an anti-seizure med they added to his antidepressant, and it was the second one they had tried. The first one was also a disaster. They had warned us … maybe he’ll adjust into the medication after a rough patch, but expect weirdness.
“This is not a snapshot of our relationship. This was a unique and crazy night.
“I had some bruises. I wasn’t black-and-blue. And I don’t regret it, per se, but I did not tell the police what happened. I didn’t see any good coming from that. If they had locked Mark up, what’s that going to do? Lock up someone who’s on a medication? If he were doing this all the time, that would be different. This was a fluke thing.”
Rypien played 11 seasons in the NFL with five different teams. He was a Pro Bowler twice in six years with the Redskins and led Washington to the Super Bowl during the 1991 season, earning MVP honors in a 37-24 win over the Buffalo Bills.
The 55-year-old said he was diagnosed with three concussions during his career and that his daughter also suffered concussions while playing in the Lingerie Football League. Rypien was a lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against the NFL in 2012 in which he sought money as well as medical care from the league.
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