UCLA Bruins player Thomas Cole announced his retirement from college football on Saturday, citing a suicide attempt earlier this year.
The offensive lineman, from San Luis Obispo, California, shared the announcement on social media while explaining his six month absence from the team's training facility.
“I haven’t been present ... This is because at the start of 2022 I made an attempt to take my own life,” he said.
“At first I was regretful that I survived my attempt, but thankfully due to the people at the UCLA hospital, Paradigm residential treatment, and my therapist Meg, I have come to a much brighter outlook for my own future."
“After many months of thorough consideration I have come to the conclusion that football is not conducive for my mental health, and there is more to my life than the game of football," he continued.
Cole explained that his decision doesn’t “negate the impact of my teammates and coaches have had on my life.”
He thanked his teammates who brought “so much joy and laughter in a time of immense personal suffering,” as well as his coaches, teachers and tutors.
“I will miss competing and the game of football. But I will mostly miss the people it has brought into my life,” he wrote. “I will forever cheer on the Bruins and wish the football program nothing but success."
Cole concluded with a message to other people with mental health issues.
"For all of those who may be struggling, you are not alone and you are loved," he said.
"It is ok to ask for help. Thank you to my family for being so loving during this process of learning to live again."
Cole enrolled at UCLA in January 2021, but did not see game action in his first season in the program.
A UCLA Athletics spokesperson declined an NBC News request for comment, citing the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, which does not permit the discussion of the health of students.
Cole’s announcement comes about a month after Bruins’ defensive back Martell Irby announced he was retiring due to mental health challenges.
Since March, there have been a number of high-profile suicides of college student-athletes across the U.S., including Katie Meyer, a goalkeeper on Stanford’s soccer team; Sarah Shulze, a top runner for the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Lauren Bernett, a standout softball player for James Madison University, and Arlana Miller, a star cheerleader at Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana.
The student-athlete suicides have cast a spotlight on the challenges of balancing athletics, studies and mental health in a highly competitive environment.
In March, Ohio State University football player Harry Miller also announced his retirement from the sport, citing mental health challenges that had pushed him to the brink of suicide.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or is in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.