Rugby star saved from suicide reveals 'several England players I know dread training camp’

England rugby lock Kearnan Myall has opened up on contemplating suicide and revealed some current internationals "dread going into training camp" because of the mental pressures involved.

The 32-year-old played more than 200 games for Wasps, Sale and Leeds and toured Argentina with England in 2013 and now has his mental wellbeing on track after seeking counselling.

But it wasn't that way when he stood on the wrong side of a hotel balcony in Dubai during a mid-season break with Wasps players, thinking of jumping from the 15th floor. 

"I imagine suicide is very different with different people," he told The Guardian in a compelling tale of the pressures of professional rugby.

"With some people it's a cry for help but that wasn't what I was doing at all. I just wanted the situation to be over. Luckily one of my teammates, Charlie Davies, came out, grabbed me and dragged me back over.

"I remember him shouting at me: 'What are you doing?' I just started crying and saying: 'I don't know.' I can't say if I was going to do it but I was in a place where it wasn't a big deal. I'd already made my peace with it. It was just a case of it happening at some point in time."

Myall, who is starting a PhD in psychiatry at Oxford University where he will research mindfulness and mental health in athletes, believes many rugby players are struggling with anxiety.

"There are several England players I know who dread going into camp. They don't want to go there," he said.

"It's nothing to do with being worried about the physical aspects of training, or the media. It's a combination of pressure, scrutiny, what's going to be said and what they're going to be made to do within the confines of the camp. What are the longevity of those sort of tactics?

"The pressures in rugby are only going to get bigger. They're increasing season on season far quicker than anything that is supposed to be helping people."

Myall said at the peak of his career he had a long-term relationship end and he didn't cope.

"It just sent me into a spiral. I began to think I must be a really shit person. It got to the point where I convinced myself I was worthless, that I was a burden on everybody around me. The only way I felt I could solve the problem was to take myself out of the picture and commit suicide.”

"There was a period of two to three months where I'd made peace with the fact that, at some point, I was going to commit suicide. I was drinking a lot, I was spending thousands of pounds on nights out. One Saturday night, in the middle of the season, I went out and took a load of cocaine."

Fate saw him drug-tested and he failed. The England policy sees  first-time offenders remain anonymous, fined and sent for medical help.

"It was probably the best and most lucky thing that could have happened to me. It's basically a test to clean up people like me, who either have a drugs problem or are in trouble. You get fined £5000 and sent to see a psychiatrist in central London. I sat down and explained how I was feeling. Very calmly he explained I was clinically depressed. I remember sitting there thinking: 'I'm not clinically depressed. Do you not know I'm an athlete?'"