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Could the pressures of sports betting be contributing to the rise in student-athlete suicides?

Published: June 17, 2024

Student-athletes are under a lot of pressure. They constantly deal with the expectations of coaches and fans, all while trying to succeed in school and balance their social lives. They’re generally considered a very healthy population, but they face a unique set of challenges that can be difficult to navigate.

According to a study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the suicide rate in NCAA collegiate athletes doubled in the 20-year period from 2002 to 2022. This troubling statistic has led to increased efforts from the NCAA to provide mental health support for their athletes, but despite their efforts, the rate of death by suicide continues to increase. 

Sports betting hasn’t been directly linked to the rise in student-athlete deaths, but it is an added pressure that’s important to consider. Some athletes are experiencing harassment and receiving threats from angry sports bettors who can often find a direct line of communication with athletes via social media. 

Late last year, the NCAA called for new laws to protect athletes from this kind of behavior. The organization is working to develop new resources for players and has suggested that a mandatory hotline be created for people to report harassment. The Ohio Casino Control Commission is also working on initiatives to help student-athletes. Harassing an athlete over the outcome of a bet is unacceptable behavior and can lead to permanent bans from betting platforms and casinos.

Whether it involves sports or casino games, betting can pose potential problems for certain individuals. If you find yourself getting frustrated at the outcome of your wagers or chasing losses, it might be time to take a step back. Here are some other warning signs to watch out for:

  • Borrowing money for gambling or betting
  • Withdrawing from relationships or hobbies
  • Feeling restless or irritable when not gambling
  • Exaggerating wins and minimizing losses

You can rate your own risk by taking this two-minute quiz

If you or someone you know is experiencing a gambling disorder, don’t hesitate to call the Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966. Trained and understanding specialists are standing by to offer free, non-judgmental, confidential support, 24/7. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is also available 24/7 via call, text, or online chat to provide prevention and crisis resources for you and your loved ones. 

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