Former Chicago Bears Quarterback Erik Kramer Reflects on his Suicide Attempt

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It was shocking news when it happened, especially for those that knew him- nine months ago former NFL quarterback Erik Kramer tried to kill himself. Fans were shocked, but very few friends knew about the troubles that plagued Kramer emotionally, most knew him as an outgoing, friendly ex-athlete that had life in the palm of his hand. What transpired on August 18th seemed impossible- Kramer took a gun pointed it underneath his chin and pulled the trigger. Miraculously, he survived. The bullet traveled through his mouth and sinus cavity and out the top of his head, and medical personnel were able to save his life. That task wasn’t easy, Kramer spent six weeks in a medically-induced coma while his brain injuries healed.

Kramer recently opened up to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, and really dove into his emotions and discussed what drove him to such a tragic decision. The article is shocking and worth a read, not even from a football standpoint, but a humanistic one.

Kramer spent weeks planning his suicide. He tied up all the loose ends in his personal life- made sure his bills were paid, finished up some chores that he needed to do around the house, and wrote multiple suicide letters to his closest family and friends. When everything was in order, he went out and purchased a gun. Once he was cleared and he had the gun in his possession (he even went to a local range to practice) and felt he was ready to do it, he had lunch with his son, dropped him off and his ex-wife’s home, checked into a hotel and shot himself.

Kramer has spent the last several months undergoing multiple surgeries and spent two stints in two separate brain-rehabilitation clinics before finally getting home and resuming a ‘normal’ life. Most importantly, according to Kramer, his suicide thoughts have subsided completely. Kramer told Birkett:

"I don’t want to tempt fate but, at this point, I feel very good, and so my hope is to just keep living life and keep contributing and keep all that going."

Kramer had been suffering from depression for years, and while he doesn’t believe his fragile state has anything to do with playing football despite the growing concerns of CTE in former professional football players, it’s impossible not to speculate if that’s the case, especially considering that the condition cannot be diagnosed until after death.

"I’ve thought about that often, but nothing really stands out as connecting football to the sort of feeling I’ve had with depression. It very well may be linked. It doesn’t feel like it to me."

Kramer instead feels that it was a series of tragedies and losses that drove him to the depths of his depression. Shortly before his suicide attempt, he reached out to former teammate Eric Hipple and checked himself into a clinic for treatment. Kramer opens up further about his depression and how it completely crippled him physically and emotionally and the crossroads he was at mentally after he had made the decision to end his life.

"It was going through my mind how much I was going to miss Dillon and my sister and her kids, how much I was going to miss my friends. But at the same time, I was in a state of sort of, I don’t know what you call it. Maybe depression or some sort of pain where I was also looking forward to, um, to not having to deal with some of the pain. I also had reasoned and realized that there was going to be quite a bit of pain just over the suicide, and mourning because of that. So all that was sort of weighing on me a little bit."

Kramer’s honesty about the situation is really astonishing and shows someone that has done a lot of self-reflection and understands how he fell into the downward spiral, how he felt trapped, and how he is now fully in recovery and appreciates how precious life truly is.

"Through all of that (treatments at brain injury centers), I can’t help but think that I should have been the worst, the most worse off than anybody, but I just was extremely lucky. And after talking to the doctors, after talking to the staff at these places, I don’t know how that happened. I guess I’m just one of the lucky ones. There’s no real reason other than that, I think."

This article really only scratches the surface of Kramer’s journey, the depths of his depression and his amazing recovery including the support he received from family, friends, and former teammates. I implore anyone to read the full article to understand the full story of Kramer and get a better understanding of the crippling disease that depression can be. After reading Birkett’s piece, I’ll never look at it the same way again.

Bill Zimmerman is an editor and featured writer for FanSided‘s BearGogglesOn. Like his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter for more news and interaction.