This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
Former Ohio State offensive lineman Harry Miller looked directly into the camera on TODAY Monday to deliver an emotional message to anyone struggling with the type of mental health issues that made him consider taking his own life.
"I would just say hope is just pretending to believe in something until one day you don't have to pretend any more," Miller said. "And right now we have all the logic, all the rationale in the world to give up on it. And I just ask, pretend for a little bit, and then one day you won't have to pretend any more and you'll be happy.
"I'm so grateful," Miller continued, as he held back tears. "And I would just ask to keep pretending and then one day you won't have to, and you'll be so glad that you did. And that's the only advice I think I can muster."
Miller announced in a statement on Twitter on March 10 that he would be "medically retiring" from football. His mental health struggles were so severe, he wrote, that he told his coach he had intended to take his own life before this past football season.
Click below to read Harry Miller's retirement statement:
The junior from Buford, Georgia, who was a starter on the 2020 Ohio State team that won the Big Ten championship, was able to get professional help after head coach Ryan Day referred him to mental health experts.
He wrote that he returned to football this past fall "with scars on my wrists and throat.”
"They are hard to see, and they are easy to hide, but they sure do hurt," he continued. "There was a dead man on the television set, but nobody knew it."
Miller described why he decided to publicly share his pain.
"I had no intention of this happening the way it did, and people call me brave," he said on TODAY. "But to me this felt like not dying, and I felt like being honest. And maybe bravery is just being honest when it would easier not to, and if that's bravery, then so be it.
"But I've just been really grateful to one, receive the help I have, and then two, to learn some things that I can share with others."
In his statement, Miller wrote that he wrestled with the idea of getting help, saying that at the time he would "rather be dead than a coward."
"I had seen the age-old adage of how our generation was softening by the second, but I can tell you my skin was tough," he continued. "It had to be. But it was not tougher than the sharp metal of my box cutter. And I saw how easy it was for people to dismiss others by talking about how they were just a dumb, college kid who didn’t know anything.”
Miller's struggles were hidden behind an image of seemingly having it all. He has a 4.0 grade-point average as a mechanical engineering major at Ohio State and was the valedictorian of his high school, in addition to being one of the nation's top recruits as a center. He also regularly volunteers in Ohio and has made mission trips to Nicaragua to help families in need build homes.
However, Miller said that he has endured mental health struggles from a young age, once telling his mother as an 8-year-old that he wanted to take his own life.
"I guess I've always been anxious and depressed," he said on TODAY.
Miller said he did not have a hard time in high school, but described the overwhelming expectations and attention at a high-profile college program like Ohio State.
"You play a game, it's a hard game, perhaps you made a lot of mistakes, and people send you a message saying, 'Transfer, you suck,'" he said. "Some people get death threats that I know on the team, and I'm trying to text my mom, that's the first thing I see, and then you can't worry about it too much because you've got an exam the next day. And you have that for weeks and then months and by the end of the semester and you're like, 'What is happening right now?'"
When Miller was in therapy after reaching out to Day for help, he saw many other stories of athletes and others in the spotlight experiencing mental health issues.
"I just kept thinking if only somebody would just say something and and I'm just really grateful that I was able to have received the care and love and affection that I did, so that I could," he said.
Miller's deeply personal announcement came just nine days after Katie Meyer, a star soccer goalie at Stanford University, died by suicide, putting a spotlight on the pressures and mental health issues faced by college athletes.
She also was a top athlete and student, and her death came as a shock to her parents.
“The last couple days are like a parent’s worst nightmare and you don’t wake up from it,” Gina Meyer told TODAY.