Simmons shares story of battling depression

February 3rd, 2021

New Twins shortstop revealed Tuesday that he has recently struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide, and he stated that those struggles influenced his decision to elect not to play the final week of the 2020 season with the Angels.

“It was tough for me mentally to where the thought of suicide crossed my mind,” Simmons, who has dealt with depression since his youth, wrote in a series of messages via social media to the Sourthern California News Group. “It was something I vowed a long time ago I would never consider again. I was fortunate to talk to a therapist, which helped me let go of those thoughts. At the end, when a lot of people were still going through what most would think of as tough times, the idea of finishing the season in a bubble was too much for me to handle.”

Simmons felt more comfortable writing out his story to the News Group instead of vocalizing them in an interview. Mental health has been at the forefront of public consciousness in the United States as the coronavirus pandemic nears the one-year anniversary, and the country remains in a state of social distancing and relative isolation.

“Now seeing how more and more people are struggling with depression, anxiety and suicide, I felt it might be time to share a little piece of my story,” Simmons wrote. “I was afraid of people judging and people twisting my story.”

Many professional athletes -- including NBA star Kevin Love, NFL star quarterback Dak Prescott and Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps -- have recently shared stories about their struggles with depression. Tuesday also saw Giants outfielder Drew Robinson discuss his attempted suicide in an emotional story with ESPN.

The 2020 season was one unlike any that Major Leaguers had experienced before. Players isolated themselves on the road, tested for COVID-19 daily and played in empty ballparks. On top of a global pandemic, last summer also saw a series of heartbreaking episodes related to social injustice that could make baseball feel less important.

“There’s a lot of people out there that are going through stressful times,” wrote Simmons, “for different types of reasons, which brings a lot of fear or anxiety. And I know there’s the fear of seeking help or assistance because of the perception of people thinking there’s something wrong with you. But I think in reality there are way more people than you might think that are going through stressful stuff, which can come in different ways: fear, loss, trauma, problems with loved ones."

Simmons told the News Group that he consulted a therapist during the season but he still had trouble overcoming his troubling thoughts. When potential postseason teams, including the Angels at that time, had to undergo even more stringent levels of quarantine at the end of the regular season, Simmons decided to walk away.

Initially, Simmons decided to keep his story to himself. But he said he ultimately realized that sharing his experience had the potential to help others.

“You’re not alone,” Simmons continued. “You don’t have to keep everything bottled up. Find someone that can help you express your emotions freely and that can assist you with it.”