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OSU football player shares his journey about mental health, struggling with suicidal thoughts

Posted at 11:10 AM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 17:25:57-04

Editor's Note: This story discusses mental health and suicide, which some may find difficult to read and/or triggering.

College athletes seem to be under immense pressure lately with three students dying by suicide just in the last two months.

On March 2, Stanford University announced that 22-year-old Katie Meyer, the goalkeeper and captain of the women's soccer team, took her own life.

Then, 21-year-old University of Wisconsin athlete and track star Sarah Shulze ended her life on April 13.

And two weeks later, 20-year-old Lauren Bernett, a softball player from James Madison University, who led her team to the world series, also died by suicide.

Ohio State football player Harry Miller could have been next.

"I was honest with myself, and I said, 'you know, if I had a gun, I probably wouldn't be here right now,''' Harry admitted.

Harry, an offensive lineman for the Buckeyes at 6'4'' and 315 pounds made a stunning announcement recently on Twitter saying, "there was once a dead man on the television set, but nobody knew it."

His tweet went on to say he was medically retiring from football and even admitted he had harmed himself with box cutters, slicing through his wrists and throat and covering up the scars with tape.

And thoughts of killing himself haunted him on a regular basis, even heading to class.

"On the way there, I'm looking at buildings, wondering which ones I can jump off of," he said.

Constantly battling those demons in his head became exhausting.

"What I'm saying doesn't make sense, until nothing else makes sense, except killing yourself. And once you're there, it's so hard to get out of it. Because you're there, you're teetering on the edge," he explained.

But Harry had been down this dark road before, struggling at a very young age.

"Back when he was eight years old, he was exhibiting signs of anxiety and depression," said Kristina Miller, Harry's mom.

Kristina knew her son was troubled but didn't realize the seriousness until he made a shocking confession in elementary school.

"He said 'sometimes when I'm alone, and I'm just thinking, I think about killing myself,'" she said.

Kristina immediately called his psychiatrist and while on the phone, she realized Harry's bedroom door was now locked.

"And he said, 'Kris, I need you to break it, I need you to break down the door.' And it suddenly occurred to me what was happening," she explained, with tears in her eyes.

Luckily, Harry had not harmed himself but they quickly decided to put him on medication and intense cognitive therapy through elementary school and middle school.

And by high school, he learned enough mindfulness tools to no longer need medication.

Then in 2020, the pandemic hit, while Harry was playing for The Ohio State University.

With everyone now in isolation, he began to rapidly spiral downhill.

But this time, online bullying presented additional mental challenges.

"I'm talking about direct messages coming to him in his private space, telling him how awful he was when he was already feeling awful, already doubting his worth and his ability. And then you get all that hate thrown at you on top of it," Kristina said.

And every time he'd see more hate directed at him online, Harry began to seek deeper into a depression.

"My phone would be the only way I could get in contact with my mother. But to get in contact with my mother, I have to see these messages of people telling me how awful I am. Once I saw that there's no like unseeing or forgetting that. And it would sort of stack upon itself. And you know, you experienced that several times, it's difficult to operate because it's sort of paralyzing,'' Harry explained.

So Kristina drove from Georgia to Ohio State and stayed with him for over a month until he was mentally in a stronger, healthier place.

But when it was time to go back home, she was terrified.

''I didn't know if I would see him again. We don't know when you walk out the door. The whole way home, I thought, is that the last time I'll see him because you just really don't know,'' she said, trying to hold back tears.

Months later, Harry finally put his mental health first, publicly admitting why he needed to quit the game of football.

But now feeling like he was finally not alone anymore.

''I've talked with teammates. And you know, I knew I wasn't the only one. And that's sort of been the response on the back end of all of this is other student athletes reaching out to me,'' he said.

And for those still struggling out there? Harry said to please don't give up.

''There is no thought you can think and there is no sadness you can feel that will remove your ability to be loved by the people who love you. And that's sort of just the message I wish I can convey to people, who are desperately sad right now is that there is nothing irredeemable about you, because of the way you feel,'' Harry said.

Harry has started his own clothing company to spread the message that it's okay to talk about mental health. And it’s 100% for charity.

Harry is the keynote speaker for this year's Faces of Resilience so all the money raised will go to that organization.

This nonprofit supports the Ohio State Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health.

For more information on the organization, click here.

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, you can call the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay 24/7 at 211 or the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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