On today’s Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ronda Rousey revealed that after losing to Holly Holm, she thought about killing herself. “At that exact second I’m like, I’m nothing,” she said. “Like what do I do anymore. And no one gives a shit about me anymore.” What saved her was seeing her boyfriend, UFC fighter Travis Browne, and thinking, I need to have his babies.
As someone who’s intimately acquainted with suicidal thoughts, Rousey’s logic made sense to me: I lost the fight, thus I am a terrible athlete, thus I failed at the only thing I care about in life, thus I should die. For most of my childhood and adolescence, I assumed everybody had that nagging voice in the back of their head — you know, that voice that tells you to kill yourself every time you make a mistake, every time you feel bored, every time you feel like a failure, every time something begins or ends or is difficult. Continuous suicidal ideation must be part of the human condition, I told myself. If I had heard a celebrity I admired talk about feeling suicidal and getting help, it might have made a huge difference.
So Rousey’s public admission of her suicidal thoughts is not only touching, but deeply important. “There are a lot of people out there who have thoughts like that,” Ellen told Rousey. Later, she concluded, “You just did a lot of good for a lot of people.”
And Ellen’s right, for people — especially teenagers — who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s important for them to know that they are not alone. I never told anyone about my suicidal thoughts until I was 19. I didn’t tell my family because I thought it would scare them. I didn’t tell any of my therapists because I thought they’d send me to a mental institution. I had never known anyone who had killed themselves, but I was named for my parents’ friend who had. “How apt!” I often said to myself.
At one point in the interview, Ellen tells Rousey that people are looking at her and thinking “if she can have thoughts like that …” but then she trails off. To finish that sentence for Ellen, I’d say that people are watching Rousey and thinking, If she can have thoughts like that and survive, if she can have thoughts like that and speak out and get help, then so can I.