health as it happens

Footballer who battled addictions took his life in team hotel, coroner rules - The Guardian

A professional footballer who had battled alcohol addiction and a gambling habit took his own life while staying in a team hotel, a coroner has ruled.

Lee Collins, who was captain of the Somerset club Yeovil Town FC, had cocaine in his system at the time of his death, the inquest in Taunton was told.

The player, 32, had also been struggling with injuries and the break-up of a relationship.

He was found dead in the hotel room after he failed to turn up to a training session in March. Toxicology tests revealed alcohol and cocaine in his system.

In a statement, his former partner Rachel Gibbon said Collins, from Newport in south Wales, was a “gentle giant, the kindest, most generous man you could have met”.

But she said there were two sides to his “very complex character” – one was a “confident, cool and collected man” with time for everyone, the other “insecure and anxious” with an addictive personality.

Gibbon said he would give “110%” when exercising but his addictive behaviour meant he gambled online and no amount he won would be enough because of the “buzz and thrill to win”.

She said: “I begged him to get help but he would get verbally aggressive. I could not have physically dragged him to the doctors. He did not want help.”

Gibbon said Collins, who played for a number of clubs including Port Vale and Forest Green Rovers, was very upset when his father and beloved pet dog died in 2017. She added: “For the last 10 years he would drink every single day, strong cider.”

A close friend, Paul Broadhead, said Collins suffered with his mental health profoundly in the last few years despite being the “joker and life and soul of the party”.

Broadhead said: “He was very sensitive and not very good in his own company.” Collins was worried about paying the bills and what he would do when his football career ended, he said.

Terry Skiverton, a member of the club’s management team, said Collins had appeared happy during a good training session the day before his death. But he said the defender had been struggling with injuries and personal problems, and failed to turn up for training on 31 March.

The club manager, Darren Sarll, said Collins and his partner had recently separated, and he was “an inconsistent character who had not turned up for work a few times”.

The senior Somerset coroner, Tony Williams, concluded that Collins had taken his own life.

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or by emailing [email protected] or [email protected] In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at .

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