Sharing the intense personal struggles that kept him away from the UCLA football team in recent months, offensive lineman Thomas Cole revealed Saturday that he attempted suicide this year before getting help for his mental health challenges.
"At first I was regretful that I survived my attempt," Cole wrote on Twitter, "but thankfully due to the people at UCLA hospital, Paradigm residential treatment and my therapist Meg, I have come to a much brighter outlook for my own future."
Cole, a redshirt freshman who did not play last season and was absent from spring practice, said he retired from football because it "is not conducive to my mental health, and there is more to life than the game of football." Thanking fellow offensive linemen Benjamin Roy, Garrett DiGiorgio, Noah Pulealii and Taka Mahe, Cole said his teammates brought him joy and laughter in a time of suffering.
"For these friendships I am forever thankful," Cole wrote. "I will miss competing and the game of football. But I will mostly miss the people it has brought into my life."
Cole becomes the second UCLA player to retire in as many months after defensive back Martell Irby announced he also was leaving the sport because of mental health challenges. In a video he posted on YouTube last month, Irby said he wandered around Los Angeles for six hours without his phone before flying home to San Diego the next day to reconnect with his family for support.
Cole said he would continue to cheer on the Bruins and thanked those who helped him at the school, including coaches, teachers and tutors. He closed his open letter with words intended to comfort others dealing with similar mental health issues.
"For all those who may be struggling, you are not alone and you are loved," Cole wrote. "It is ok to ask for help. Thank you to my family for being so loving during this process of learning to live again."