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Former NHL star opens up about depression/suicide attempt and almost dying

8 novembre 2019
Clint Malarchuk, a former NHL goaltender most infamously known for having his jugular cut by a skate in 1989, has opened up regarding the trauma he’s lived with since the incident. Consider yourself warned, if you haven't seen the incident below, it is quite graphic.



Malarchuk spoke out in a new documentary, set to air this week, titled “Headstrong: Mental Health and Sports.” The documentary tackles the stigma that athletes face regarding mental health issues.

“With athletes, we’re kind of depicted as really tough. We do not want to admit that we are struggling in any way because of the stigma. Mental illness is real, and it’s out there,” the former Sabre said in the documentary.

While Malarchuk made a quick return to the ice after the traumatic injury, he says he dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder after the injury, in addition to a plethora of problems with alcohol abuse, OCD and depression.

“I think it was the next season, and I wasn’t sleeping at all. Wicked flashbacks. And of course, you do that in silence. You don’t tell anybody because of the stigma, which is totally wrong,” he said. “With mental illness or emotional-type illness, it’s perceived as a weakness rather than a sickness. So many people suffer in silence,” says Malarchuk.

“I remember we had a Super Bowl party at Pat LaFontaine’s house, and I hadn’t slept in about 10 days. I would just sit on, like, a kitchen chair so I wouldn’t go into a deep sleep because I didn’t want to see that skate come up any more. I was reliving that bad dream or nightmare, and my heart was pounding. I was sweating. I was grabbing my neck. It was basically trauma, undiagnosed.”

The reoccurring images of trauma that plagued the NHL star, keeping him from sleep, are what led him down a dangerous path of alcohol and drug use. He touched on that in the documentary as well.

“It got to the point where I had to get some kind of sleep. I was taking some painkillers because I was playing with a broken thumb, so I came home from the party and — I’m not thinking clearly — I look at the painkillers, and the bottle says, ‘Do not drink with alcohol. Will make you drowsy.’ And I thought, ‘Right on!’ ”

The former NHL star nearly died at one point, after ingesting a dangerous mixture of drugs and alcohol.

After taking an estimated 4 to 5 pills and washing it down with a bottle of scotch, his heart stopped and Malarchuk woke up in the hospital. Yet another brush with death for the struggling athlete.

Things would continue to escalate from there, as he continued to struggle through his trauma. In October of 2008, Malarchuk attempted to commit suicide, shooting himself in the chin with a .22 caliber rifle. It was reported by the Canadian Press that the goaltender was under the influence of alcohol while taking prescription medication for his OCD.

Malarchuk would survive the incident, and after escaping death for the third time, finally sought help.

“I started to get help, medication and the right doctor,” he says in the documentary. “I’m a suicide survivor. I don’t want to go down that road again. When you wake up and you’ve got a bullet in your head and it’s still there, you’ve got to start thinking about stuff.”

Since seeking treatment, Malarchuk has become part of a growing movement of athletes detailing their struggles with mental health issues and the stigma that follows them. Malarchuk is no longer alone, joining the likes of Michael Phelps, Kevin Love, Demar Derozen and Brian Dawkins, among other star athletes, both active and retired.

Malarchuk, now 58 years-old, is currently living on a ranch in Gardnerville, Nevada with his loving wife Joanie. He continues his work to maintain his own well-being, while also attempting to bring an end to the stigma that athletes face in regards to living a mentally healthy and stable life.
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