Ospreys' Harri Morgan on breaking mental health stigma after trying to take his own life

  • Watch the video report by Matt Southcombe

Ospreys scrum-half Harri Morgan has spoken to ITV News about his mental health struggles after revealing his attempted to end his own life earlier this year.

Morgan, who is 23, said he had suffered "in silence for a number of years" following the loss of his grandparents and consecutive rugby injuries.

Playing the sport calmed his mind but a flurry of injuries took that away from him.

In February, he couldn't see a way through and took an overdose, attempting to take his own life.

"I always used rugby as my sort of escape from all of the mental struggles that I was dealing with," he told ITV News.

"I lost my grandparents when I was 16, 17 - quite suddenly - And I found that really difficult to deal with. But rugby was always my escape.

"As soon as that gets taken away from you through injuries, your weekends then go to sitting back in the house doing nothing and not having any way to escape."

Harri said his injuries led to a fear of going back on the pitch again Credit: PA

But even when Morgan was fit, going back out onto the field held a certain degree of fear.

His mind became consumed by questions over what would happen if he picked up another injury.

"It's a feeling of being scared to step back on the rugby pitch because you don't want to put yourself back into that situation where you get injured again," he explained.

"I knew what that brought with it. It's not just the fact that while you're injured, you rehab now and come back. It brings a lot of stuff with it as well.

"I'm in contract, If I'm not playing, then I won't get a contract again to play elsewhere. It's a job at the end of the day. That's where I earn my money.

"So all those pressures build up. And then I got to the point where I didn't want to play really, because I was scared of getting injured [again]."

Harri said his confidence was knocked after also losing his hair

The stress and anxiety he was suffering also led to hair loss, which knocked his confidence and impacted his mental health further.

"That had a big, massive impact on me," he admits.

"You play your best when you're confident and confident in your ability, confident in yourself. And I wasn't that for about 12, 13 months.

"I didn't have any self-confidence. I was at a low point and I couldn't find a way out of that low point."

Harri's father said he feels guilt about the situation

Morgan's struggle has also had an impact on his parents.

His mum, Helen, received a phone call from the Ospreys on that Monday morning in February to say that her son hadn’t turned up for work.

"You know, you have these children, I had this beautiful boy that we've brought into an adult world," she explains.

"And then all of a sudden I cannot do anything as a mother to take the pain away, which you feel, as a mother, is your job."

Dad, Leigh, adds: "For me it's guilt. And I question myself. Have I contributed to this? Have I put pressure on him? Have I said or done the right thing at the right time? It's hard."

Very quickly, Morgan realised he had to make a change.

The former Wales age-grade star has taken the decision to step away from professional  rugby, removing himself from an environment that brought him so much joy but also pain.

"The day after, I woke up, my mum found me and I went to the hospital," he recalls.

"It was probably sitting in the hospital and seeing my parents sat opposite me and thinking like, I can't do this.

"Not only to myself, but also to my family. Because they love me and I'm seeing the effect that it has on them. And it was making me feel worse. So I knew I needed to make a change.

On the decision to leave professional rugby, he adds: "By doing that, taking that element out, it's taken a lot of pressure off myself.

"The pressure to perform, the pressure to stay fit, the pressure to get a job then I guess. It's taken that away. And now I can focus on myself and getting myself back to the place where I was before all of this stuff."

Morgan is also completing a fitness challenge every day in May to support mental health charity LooseHeadz.

Each day, he will do 10km worth of aerobic exercise, be that run, cycle, assault bike or ski erg.

Mum Helen concludes: "There are other Harri Morgan's out there that are coming through the same pathway as him. If he can save just one of those then that would make a massive difference."

The last 18 months have been a difficult time for Harri and his family.

For so long, only he knew the extent of his suffering.

But now he is proof that even in the darkest of times, there is always a light.

If you have been affected by anything in this article or need further support, the Samaritans are there to help.

They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Call 116 123 for free.