Clinical depression is something that nearly 10 million people in America struggle with. And who better to talk to you about the affliction than a former Lions quarterback?
Eric Hipple, who played nine seasons for Detroit from 1980-89, was devastated in 2000 when his 15-year-old son took his own life amidst a battle with depression. He’s now giving seminars to teenagers in Michigan, informing them about depression and imploring them to seek help if they’re suffering. Unfortunately, Hipple’s former employer hasn’t done a whole lot to lift the spirits around there over the last 50 years.
The DETROIT NEWS says that Hipple wants there to be a more open discussion about depression, which is often bottled up because of a social stigma. He feels that perhaps if his son knew that he could talk about it, maybe he would still be alive today. Hipple doesn’t want to see it happen to anyone again, especially not other teenagers.
Hipple says that he himself went through tough times psychologically after the death of his son:
“I went overboard and had a couple close calls myself,” Hipple said “I finally said, ‘Wait a minute, if this can happen to me and to Jeff, when he was a good kid and never got in trouble, then it can happen to anyone.’
“I did some research and got educated and saw that the body and the brain changes when suffering from depression. I wanted to know more and more about depression, so I started talking to people and it grew from there.”
He’s now a spokesperson for the University of Michigan Depression Center.
Hipple wasn’t a horrible quarterback by the Lions’ standards. He was 28-29 as a starter and actually led the team to the 1983 playoffs (where they lost 31-7 in the wild card round). By 1988, though, he had been replaced by the immortal duo of Rusty Hilger and Chuck Long.
It’s great that Hipple is committed to making a difference in the lives of kids. It’s just too bad, though, that nearly every story involving the Lions these days includes the word “depression” somewhere in it.