Chris Kamara reveals he thought about suicide amid heartbreaking health struggles

24 October 2023, 06:14

Chris Kamara has opened up about his mental health struggles
Chris Kamara has opened up about his mental health struggles. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Chris Kamara has revealed he contemplated taking his own life as he struggled with a serious speech disorder that disrupted his broadcasting career.

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Kamara, a former footballer and beloved TV presenter and pundit, was diagnosed with apraxia in 2022, which makes it hard for him to speak.

The condition, which is caused by an under-active thyroid, forced Kamara to leave his football broadcasting job, where he had become a legend on shows like Soccer Saturday and Goals on Sunday.

Kamara, 65, has previously admitted he feels like a "fraud" and that it is as if someone else is controlling his voice when he speaks.

And he has said in a new book that he contemplated suicide because he didn't want to be a burden to his wife, Anne.

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Chris Kamara
Chris Kamara. Picture: Getty

"I’m going to admit something now, something I’ve never mentioned before," he said in the memoir, serialised in the Mirror. "It’s hard for me to talk about, so bear with me.

"I worried about where I was going to end up. Would my physical and neurological deterioration just keep going and going? And I worried more about the effect it would have on those around me.

"I’m a man who has always wanted to help, to provide, to love and nurture those around me. And now I could only see myself as a burden. A shell of the man I used to be that they would be left to look after."

He added: "Seeing myself like that was like staring into an abyss. I could never reconcile that image in my head. It was unthinkable.

Chris Kamara
Chris Kamara. Picture: Getty

“And it’s at that point I’d think, ‘They’d be better off without me.’”

Kamara said he thought of Gary Speed, a former footballer and manager, who took his own life in 2011.

“I thought of Gary Speed and then I thought of my own position – a man in his mid-sixties, whose best days, because of a brain condition, were gone, struggling on while becoming a weight on all around him. Whose wife and children would be left to deal with whatever I became.

“I didn’t want that for Anne and the boys. So how do you prevent it from happening? You take yourself out of the picture.

“There were times when I definitely thought that was a way out. If you’re stuck in a maze, with no sign of an escape route, eventually you’ll try something extreme. Especially if you have chosen to wander that maze alone."

Chris Kamara
Chris Kamara. Picture: Alamy

Kamara eventually sought help and was able to open up about his condition. He still works, and now has a podcast with his former Goals on Sunday co-host Ben Shephard.

And Kamara has bravely spoken on TV about his condition, and said he was surprised at the outpouring of support he received. He was also given an MBE this year for services to football, charity and anti-racism.

The NHS says about apraxia: "Frequently the person with apraxia will have difficulties with conversational speech. However they may be good at ‘automatic’ speech tasks such as counting, swearing, repeating rhymes, greetings and farewell.

"It's usually caused by damage to the left side of the brain, such as a stroke."

"The condition does not affect a person's understanding and the symptoms of the condition can vary occurring to the severity of the disorder."

Those feeling distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK.

In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK

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