Former Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu found dead at 42. His death is being investigated as a suicide according to ESPN. Many of us don’t really know who Irabu is and about his life. Hideki joined the Yankees 14 years ago and was destined to become a star for America’s marquee franchise. He was viewed as the Japanese version of Nolan Ryan when he arrived in America in 1997, with a 98 mph fastball and excelled as a strikeout king. He had an impressive start to his career that was very brief and was a disappointment to the Yankees and himself during three seasons wearing the pen stripes.
Irabu finished 34-35 with a 5.15 ERA in his tenure with the Yankees, two years in Montreal and a final season in the Texas bullpen in 2002. In recent years Hideki pitched in an American Independent league and signed with a Japanese team while living with family in California. While his professional career was spiraling out of control, his personal life was too. Neighbors say that Irabu in the past few months was despondent and down because of his recent split with his wife. Although his career and life spiraled, Irabu also left a lasting legacy. Several big stars, from Ichiro Suzuki to Hideki Matsui, followed Irabu from Japan to the United States.
Hideki wasn’t the only athlete in the news this week who apparently took their own life. Olympic silver medalist Jeret “Speedy” Peterson was found dead in a remote canyon in Utah in what police are calling a suicide. Jeret on Feb. 25, 2010 took home the silver medalist in the Winter Olympics. Jeret was known as one of the world’s most risk taking and innovative freestyle skier. He wore his heart on his sleeve and was a gambler at heart. US Ski Team CEO Bill Marolt called Tuesday “a sad day in our sport.” “Jeret `Speedy’ Peterson was a great champion who will be missed and remembered as a positive, innovative force on not only his sport of freestyle aerials, but on the entire U.S. Freestyle Ski Team family and everyone he touched,” Marolt said. Peterson’s message to almost anyone he would talk to was to take chances, and to never settle for ordinary. Tuesday, Jeret hung up his skies and called 911 before shooting himself. I’m praying for both of these men’s families.
Life is so fragile. The lives of both of these men came to a tragic ending. Suicide is so real and and takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans a year. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. (homicide is 15th). (CDC) Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-old Americans. (CDC) It is estimated that there are at least 4.5 million survivors in this country. (AAS) An average of one person dies by suicide every 16.2 minutes. (CDC, AAS) Just looking at some of these stats shows us that there needs to be an awareness about Suicide. My own cousin took his own life by riding his bike to the cemetery and pulling the trigger.
There is someone who loves you so much and cares a lot about you. As stated in the last blog, God knows you and he knows your heart. God proved his love to you when he GAVE his only son to die in the cross for you. Just read John 3:16 and put your name in the blank space: “For God so loved _______ that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus invites us to come to him. He says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Jesus is there for you when you feel like life is worth living. I have been there myself when I felt like who would care if I wasn’t here anymore but I know that life is so much worth living and I worship a God who cares so much about me. He was even willing to send his son to die on the cross for you and me.
Life is so fragile and you mean a lot to the creator of the universe and you mean a lot to me. We can learn a lot from the lives of Jeret and Hideki. They teach that athletes also suffer from depression and low self-esteem. Jesus even told his disciple that not to worry about tomorrow cause today has enough troubles of it’s own. Jesus walked and lived on this earth and he knows the pain we go through and the struggles we face. If you ever feel like your life isn’t worth living, please talk to someone or let us know.
Life is so precious and life as Bob McPhee said, “Could be worse.” Accept Jesus invitation and go to the one who loves you so much.