Saints legend Sean Long has told how he attempted suicide during a battle with depression lasting more than two years in a revealing interview.
Former St Helens and Great Britain star Long revealed to a Sunday newspaper he struggled to adjust to life after playing the 13-man code, which led him to try and start his car in the locked garage of his Wigan home in January.
The scrum half, who had a brief spell as an assistant coach at Wigan Warriors last year, spoke openly about his need to get help after retiring from rugby league due to injury in 2011.
Long told the newspaper he took tablets and attempted to take his own life, but was rescued by friends and family and is now recuperating in Wigan in the care of his mother Pamela and brother Karl.
Long, 37, said: “I just felt like I’d had enough. I didn’t know I was ill. It was a cry for help.
“It’s only now that I’m learning to speak to people about what I was going through that I realise a lot of people have been in this situation before.”
The ex-Great Britain ace’s interview has been welcomed by mental health charities, who say too many men are still afraid to speak out or seek help for depression.
Dr Phil Cooper, who co-founded rugby charity State of Mind following the death of former Wigan Warriors player Terry Newton, said: “When high-profile players such as Sean speak out it can encourage other people to access support and think about their own mental fitness.
“Men often keep things bottled up and try to put a brave face on things because they think that’s what they should be doing. It can be difficult for them to recognise there is an issue.
“More and more people such as Sean who are well known to people speaking about these issues will hopefully have a positive impact.”
Recent statistics showed there were 5,900 suicides recorded in the UK in 2012, with 77 per cent of the cases involving men.
State of Mind tours schools, community groups and sports clubs raising awareness of mental health issues and introducing fitness programme which encourage people to think positively about themselves.
Sean Long enjoyed a glittering career at the pinnacle of rugby league but also had to face controversy during and after his time on the field.
His time at St Helens saw the club lift four Super League titles and three Challenge Cups, with Long winning the Lance Todd Trophy on each occasion.
He also made 21 appearances for England and Great Britain.
However, he was also suspended by his club in 2004 for betting against his own side, while the latter part of his career saw him struggle with injuries before finally retiring in 2011.
He was briefly a Wigan Warriors assistant coach before leaving the club in 2013, and he has also held positions with Salford and most recently with London Broncos.