Content warning: This story deals with suicide and other mental health issues and can be difficult to read and emotionally upsetting. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or is in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 988 or on tel. 988lifeline.org.
In a new documentary, former Texas A&M and Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel says he attempted suicide in the months after the Cleveland Browns cut him in 2016.
In Netflix’s “Untold: Johnny Football,” the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner said after the 2015 season that he began using OxyContin and cocaine daily and dropped from 215 pounds in January to 175 in September.
Manziel faced an assault charge after being accused of punching and threatening his then-girlfriend in January 2016, with his lawyers eventually settling with officials to dismiss the charge on stipulated conditions.
The Browns cut him in March 2016, and Manziel says he was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“The wires in my head seemed very twisted,” Manziel says.
He twice refused to go to rehab, and Manziel says he began self-sabotaging and went on a “$5 million bender” before trying to end his life.
“I had planned to do everything I wanted to do at that point in my life, spend as much money as I possibly could, and then my plan was to take my life,” Manziel says in the documentary. “I wanted to get as bad as humanly possible where it made sense, and that made it seem like an excuse and a cop-out for me.”
Manziel had bought a gun “months earlier” with the plan to use it to carry out death by suicide, but when he pulled the trigger, the gun went off.
“Still to this day, don’t know what happened. But the gun just clicked on me,” he says.
Manziel’s relationship with his family was strained at the time, in part due to his refusal to seek treatment. After the suicide attempt, he left Los Angeles and returned to his family’s home in Texas.
“It’s been a long, long road and I don’t know if it’s been great or if it’s been bad. It’s kind of still up for debate,” says his father, Paul Manziel, in the documentary. “But we’re blessed. And he’s still with us. And we can still mend all the fences. I think Johnny has much better days ahead of him than what he’s had.”
Paul Manziel told the Dallas Morning News in February 2016 that he feared his son would not see his next birthday if he did not seek help.
This was told by the documentary’s director, Ryan Duffy Athletics that Johnny Manziel raised the suicide attempt while they first talked about the project over dinners and video calls before Manziel sat down for on-camera interviews.
“Sometimes things come up in that setting that you’re not sure they’re going to revisit when all the lights are on, so to speak. And it didn’t seem like he was considering it himself. He was pretty much a open book,” Duffy said. “For us, once he was comfortable talking about it and rehab and the various other things that he’s been dealing with over the last couple of years, I think it was a no- no brainer to have that in the movie because it really solidifies a little bit of what we probably all thought was a fight.”
“Untold: Johnny Football” is scheduled for release on Netflix on August 8.
(Image courtesy of Netflix)