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Irish cricket star John Mooney on depression: ‘I thought about killing myself’


John Mooney is aiming to return for Ireland after his struggle with a stress-related illness over the winter. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

John Mooney is aiming to return for Ireland after his struggle with a stress-related illness over the winter. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE


John Mooney is aiming to return for Ireland after his struggle with a stress-related illness over the winter. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Irish cricketer John Mooney has revealed that he thought about killing himself.

The Irish cricket star spoke to Hugh Cahill on 2FM’s Game On show on Thursday night and revealed the full extent of his battle with depression.

Mooney had to return early from a tour of the Caribbean at the start of the year and missed the World T20 tournament and ODIs against Sri Lanka as he received treatment for what was described at the time as an “ongoing stress-related illness”.

However, the Dubliner revealed tonight he has battling depression for years prior to the Caribbean tour and thought about killing himself.

“I have had suicidal thoughts. I had to tell my wife about it. She was devastated. That was the first time I had to go into St Pats. It would have been easy to go through with the plan I had. But to go through the process of getting help was the best decision I ever made.”

Mooney revealed that he had spent weeks in St Patrick’s Hospital over the last few years. He said he had been drinking excessively before he left the Ireland tour of the Caribbean. 

He described his suicidal thoughts as like a “craving”.

“The thoughts just pop into your head and you can’t stop them.”

He said that things came to a head for him on the Caribbean tour.

“Things slipped for me in the Caribbean. I had been drinking too much and it came to a halt for me on that tour. The decision was made by me and my wife, Lena and Simo [Ireland Coach Philip Verant Simmons ] to come home.”

He said the depression came over him gradually and the roots may have been in the sudden death of his father.

“For a number of years I started to withdraw from everyday life. I was drinking excessively. I was masking my feelings. A lot of men don’t speak about their feelings and I am one of those people. I spent about 20 years not speaking about my feelings. It was a really tough process to get where I am today.

"My father dropped dead in front of me as an 11-year-old boy and I never really dealt with those issues. In my teenage years, I got into a bit of trouble. But I made a promise to him that I was going to play cricket for Ireland. That was the real driving force for me to stay in the game.

“But a couple of years, I fell out of love with the game completely. I didn’t find much pleasure in anything. I had to go to counselling and that started to stir up a lot of emotional feelings."

He admitted that he was bottling up his emotions, due to his career as an elite sportsperson. “As an athlete, you are so focused on goals. All the emotions that goes into that – the ups, the downs, the goals – they all feed into each other. My teammates didn’t know so they couldn’t look out for me. I could have got teammates to come out for a few beers any night of the week without them realising that I should not be drinking with the medication that I'm on.”

Mooney said he worried that depression would be viewed as an “excuse” if his form dipped, so he kept it hidden from most of his teammates.

“I didn’t want that. I had this persona amongst the lads as being a heavy lifter in the gym and youngsters might have been a bit intimidated of me when I played the game. And I wanted to keep up that persona, really."

Mooney started to address his issues two years ago. However, he revealed that he didn't trust himself to talk to his counsellor "openly and honestly" for 18 months.

““For the first year-and-a-half, I didn’t tell my counsellor the truth. It’s only in the last few months that I have started to get places. I’ve only started to embrace it in the last while and it has been a huge weight off my shoulders.

“It took a lot of sessions and a lot of money to get to a point where I was comfortable talking about things."

He said his battle with depression will be “long running”.

“This is going to be an ongoing fight. This is a battle. I don’t think you can ever take your eye off the ball and get too comfortable. I am on the right side at the minute and I hope I can stay there.”

He urged men to talk about their feelings and emotions.

“I regard myself as a normal bloke who used to go to the pub on a Friday and have a few drinks. The same as any other bloke. It doesn’t make a difference that I play elite level sport. I know there are people out there are struggling. So pick up the phone. I have a Facebook account. If anyone wants, they can look me up. But there are also professional services like the Samaritans and St Vincent De Paul.”

The Samaritans are on 116 123 (freephone) or text: 087 2 60 90 90; email jo@samaritans.org

Online Editors