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CSI shines light on mental health and pressure facing athletes

The college sports world has been rocked by high profile athletes allegedly taking their own lives.
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 2:00 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — The recent deaths of high profile athletes sent shockwaves across the nation, college athletes playing at the highest level allegedly taking their own lives.

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, we highlight the need for resources and intervention and our story takes us to the College of Southern Idaho.

CSI catcher signs with Idaho State softball
CSI catcher signs with Idaho State softball(KMVT)

Sophia Stoddard is wrapping up her career as catcher for the College of Southern Idaho and ready to embark on a new journey at Idaho State.

“The player I walked out of high school is completely different than the player CSI has shaped me into,” Stoddard said.

Stoddard personally hasn’t struggled with suicidal thoughts, but she has had some down moments.

“I personally lost my great uncle a while back and I think last year I found out that he did have cancer while we on our trip,” she explained. “Just during those times just leaning on my teammates is what got me through it.”

Over time she also has utilized the resources available at the college.

“We do a lot of athletes up here, so which is good news because I think our coaches are really good about makings our athletes having their mental needs met,” explained student mental health counselor, Ryan Ziccone.

With the recent apparent suicides of Lauren Bernett of James Madison University and Stanford’s Katie Meye, some recognize the immense amount of pressure put on athletes to be the pillar not just of their teams, but the community as well.

“It’s unfortunate to hear that these things are happening and for some people, that is their only choice,” Stoddard explained.

“There’s a lot of pressure on athletes overall to perform and be role models and to live up to expectations with grades and performing at a high level with sports and being able to move on, especially at this level,” Ziccone added.

CSI used to feature three counselors, now it’s just Ziccone, but the school is promoting a new service called BetterMynd.

“The outreach is phenomenal with BetterMynd, they don’t have to worry about being on campus seeing me, because they can do BetterMynd anywhere.”.

For Stoddard, she knows the pressure to maintain grades, athletics and family can be overwhelming, but her message is this...

“You’re not alone,” Stoddard said. “Everyone here at CSI is willing to support you and hear you and just hear what you’re going through and help you through it.”

If you are someone you know is struggling with suicide, please call the suicide prevention outline at 1-800-273-8255.

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