Its tragic when any young person is taken before they have had an opportunity to live a full and happy life. It is even more tragic when that young person takes his or her own life.
Two weeks ago, Moose Jaw Warriors prospect Ethan Williams ended his life.
The Williams family isn’t laying blame now, but they are stating that their son’s depression over the final months of his life was linked to the eight “diagnosed concussions” that Ethan sustained while playing hockey.
The Winnipeg Free Press story is one that every parent and player should read. Not simply to learn about what happened to this young man but to gain some insight into the potential damage concussions can have on young people.
Mental health issues are serious ones. Many studies have been done recently that provide direct correlations between concussions and mental health issues. The impact of a concussion on a young brain that is still developing can be far greater than that of the adult brain. While no one suggests a concussion is not a big deal for an adult, it is just that much more dangerous for a young person.
The comments provided by the Williams family describing Ethan’s drive and desire to succeed in following his dreams of making the NHL could be attributed to thousands of other hockey parents when describing their sons and daughters.
The question serious hockey people have to start asking themselves is how can these things be prevented? What can really be done to change the game to make it safer for all young people? When will mandatory baseline testing become the norm? When will doctors and teams get together and take those players who have had significant concussion issues placing them on DO NOT PLAY lists?
Is the world wide hockey family not strong enough to take a young player and sit them down and say, for the sake of your health and your life we can no longer allow you to play.
How many more times will we all have to read a tragic story like Ethan’s? How many more times will a parent have to experience the loss of a child due to mental health issues before more is done?