This weekend Junior Seau was inducted into The Pro Football Hall of Fame. For those of you unfamiliar with him, he had an illustrious 20 year career in the NFL. In 2012 he tragically died by suicide. There was question whether his suicide was related to his 20 year career as a football player, and how repeated blows to the head impacted his mental health. That is not what this is about.
He asked his daughter to give the induction speech but citing a 5 year old policy that family members can’t give speeches for inductees; the NFL denied this request. They did however give her three minutes to speak in an interview. This speech was wonderful but granting her the full six minutes below would have been tremendous. They denied this had anything to do with a pending lawsuit or the fact that is was suicide.
The Beautiful Opportunity
Sydney Seau reported that she did not want her speech to be about any of the above. She wanted to celebrate her fathers life and accomplishments. She did not want to make it about his suicide loss or head injuries. This is the kind of message the world needs to hear. We need to honor those how have died by suicide and their families; offer hope and love to those around them.
In a wonderful piece, the New York Times spent the time with Syndney Seau and recored the speech she would have given. If you have not seen this, please watch it and spread widely. Ms. Seau honors her father in way that is beyond words. It gives messages of hope, dignity and respect. Shame on the NFL for not letting this message out.
In the suicide prevention community, we talk about safe messaging in the media. This is a beautiful and shining example of this. I know she did not want to make his speech about his death or suicide. I don’t want the take away from this article to be about that either. By not mentioning the word suicide, she made it about life and that is the kind of messaging we need to have after a suicide death. The focus on life and what helps people survive and that is what matters most. Yes NFL, you missed a field goal here. You missed a great chance to highlight life, hope, dignity, honor, and respect.
Thanks to fellow suicide prevention advocate Dr. Bill Schmitz for sharing this New York Times Story.