Trigger Warning: suicide
“Dum Spiro Spero”
As a born and raised Southerner, college football was ingrained in me from a young age. War Eagle!
This past week, I was studying for psychiatric nurse practitioner finals, a source of stress for anyone. On my study breaks, I was constantly watching google for the announcement of Auburn’s new football coach.
During my search, a picture of an Ohio state Football player, walking on Senior day caught my eye in my searches. Why was this news? I noticed the number 76 player in the still image, on the field prior to his last home game, but not dressed out. Intrigued for some odd reason, I clicked on the image to read about this player.
Was he a future NFL first round draft pick? I don’t follow Ohio State football and have never heard of this guy.
A 6 foot 4 inches, blonde haired, 300-pound, muscular athlete. After reading about this athlete, I learned he was a 4.0 engineering student, Valedictorian of his high school in Georgia, and a starting offensive lineman at Ohio State as a Junior. The picture image of perfect.
Harry was a 5-star recruit, future NFL superstar, and he quit it all. It was expected that after his junior year, Harry would be 10 million dollars richer as a second round projected pick in the National Football League. He now speaks out, sharing his story, in hopes to help other athletes and anyone struggling to accept their mental health struggles and ask for help.
Despite Harry’s external appearance, academic success, Harry was struggling. Harry’s own father had committed suicide when he was just eight years old. Despite his success on and off the field, his depression was becoming severe, and he wanted to end his life.
Now, Harry is slim and medically retired from football, yet on the sidelines with his team each game.
Harry reached out to his head coach on the day he intended on killing himself. His coach referred him to several mental health professionals at Ohio State. After working hard on his mental health, Harry tried to play football again, with scars on his wrists and throat due to self-harm. However, the comments from fans anytime Harry wasn’t perfect in his playing and the pressures of being on such a platform made him realize his mental health was more important than playing football.
In a quote from Harry “Maybe bravery is just being honest when it would be easier not to be.” Harry sought professional help and ended his football journey to focus on himself. During his suffering, Harry said he just wished an athlete, Miss America, just someone, anyone in a high-profile role, anyone who was the stereotypical image of “put together” would speak up on mental health, to normalize it. Now, Harry is doing just that.
This tough, muscular, now slim man, a 4.0 college engineering Senior at Ohio State. The picture of bravery. Not because of his successes as an athlete, but for his acceptance that mental health does not discriminate. Harry Miller: a voice of hope for all. Harry had the courage to ask for help. Harry had the courage to prioritize his mental health. A few months ago, Harry was the keynote speaker for the annual Faces for Resilience fundraiser, raising money for the Ohio State department of psychiatry and behavioral health, the organization that Harry considers a major part of savings his life.
“Dim Spiro Spero”
Latin for “While I breath, I hope.” Something Harry tells himself constantly in his battle with mental Illness.
A final message from Harry “I would just say hope is just pretending to believe in something until one day you don’t have to prepend anymore,” he said. “And right now, you have all the logic, all the rationale in the world to give up on it. But I would just ask, pretend for a little bit and one day you won’t have to pretend anymore, and you will be happy.”
There is hope within acceptance and bravery. Be a Harry Miller. He’s on the sidelines rooting for you.
Written by: Paige A. Stephenson
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If you or someone you know needs help, please call the national suicide prevention hotline.
- quotes from Harry Miller’s interview with the Today Show on NBC, March 2021 and from his speech at the Faces of Resilience fundraiser on September 20, 2022.