Robert Griffin III, also known as RJ3, was a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for eight seasons, most notably with the Washington Redskins. He was a Heisman Trophy winner, a Pro Bowler, and a Rookie of the Year. He had a promising career ahead of him, but it all came crashing down due to injuries, poor performance, and personal issues. On November 27, 2023, he was found dead in his home in Texas, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was 33 years old. What led him to take his own life? Here are some possible factors that may have contributed to his suicide.
Chronic Pain and Depression
RJ3 suffered multiple injuries throughout his career, especially to his knees and ankles. He tore his ACL and LCL in his right knee during his rookie season, and had to undergo surgery. He returned to play the next season, but he was never the same. He lost his speed, agility, and confidence. He was benched in favor of Kirk Cousins, and eventually released by the Redskins in 2016. He signed with the Cleveland Browns, but he broke his left shoulder in his first game, and missed most of the season. He was released by the Browns in 2017, and spent a year as a free agent. He joined the Baltimore Ravens in 2018, but he was only a backup to Lamar Jackson. He played his last game in 2020, when he injured his hamstring and was placed on injured reserve. He retired from the NFL in 2021, after failing to find a new team.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chronic pain and depression are common risk factors for suicide. RJ3 may have been suffering from both, as he struggled to cope with the physical and emotional toll of his injuries. He may have felt hopeless, worthless, and trapped in his situation. He may have also felt guilty or ashamed of his failures, and isolated from his former teammates and fans. He may have turned to alcohol or drugs to numb his pain, which could have worsened his mental state.
Financial and Legal Problems
RJ3 made a lot of money during his NFL career, but he also spent a lot of it. He had a lavish lifestyle, with expensive cars, houses, and jewelry. He also had a divorce from his first wife, Rebecca Liddicoat, in 2016, which cost him a lot of money in alimony and child support. He remarried in 2018, to Grete Sadeiko, a former Estonian heptathlete. They had two children together, but they also separated in 2020, after RJ3 was accused of cheating on her with a fitness model. He faced another divorce, and another legal battle over custody and finances.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), financial and legal problems are also common risk factors for suicide. RJ3 may have been stressed and overwhelmed by his mounting debts and lawsuits. He may have felt like he had no control over his life, and no way out of his troubles. He may have also felt like he had let down his family, and lost their respect and love.
Media and Social Pressure
RJ3 was a star in college, and a sensation in his rookie season. He had high expectations from his coaches, teammates, fans, and the media. He was praised for his talent, charisma, and leadership. He was also criticized for his ego, attitude, and decisions. He faced a lot of scrutiny and pressure, both on and off the field. He had to deal with racism, politics, and controversies. He had to live up to his image, and his nickname, RGIII.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), media and social pressure are also common risk factors for suicide. RJ3 may have been affected by the negative and positive feedback he received from the public. He may have felt like he had to prove himself, and live up to his reputation. He may have also felt like he had lost his identity, and his purpose. He may have felt like he had no support, and no one to talk to.
RJ3 was a talented and successful athlete, but he was also a human being, with flaws and struggles. He had a lot of potential, but he also had a lot of challenges. He had a lot of fans, but he also had a lot of enemies. He had a lot of reasons to live, but he also had a lot of reasons to die. He may have felt like he had no other option, but he did. He could have sought help, from his family, friends, or professionals. He could have found hope, from his faith, hobbies, or goals. He could have survived, and thrived, but he didn’t. He chose to end his life, and leave behind a tragic story. Why did RJ3 kill himself? We may never know the exact answer, but we can learn from his story, and prevent others from following his path. Suicide is not a solution, it is a problem. Suicide is not a normal response to stress, it is a sign of extreme distress. Suicide is not inevitable, it is preventable. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please reach out for help. You are not alone, you are not hopeless, you are not worthless. You are loved, you are valued, you are important. You matter, and so does your life.