The OSU athletic family lost one of its own when wrestler and football player Kosta Karageorge died. I did not have the pleasure of knowing Kosta, but I hear he was quite popular among his teammates. The fact that he joined the football team after finishing his wrestling eligibility shows what a competitor he was.
Many of us are in shock. We may not know how to feel or what to do. In light of this distress, I want to share some information and resources with you.
While there is no correct way to respond, here are some common emotional reactions to grief and trauma:
Shock/denial/numbness/a sense of unreality
Anxiety and fear, which may relate to insomnia and feeling on edge
Second guessing ourselves (“If only I’d…”)
Sadness and loss
Questions about why this happened
While we don’t have the official cause of death, preliminary reports indicate that Kosta committed suicide. It’s difficult to understand suicide. Sometimes individuals experience such deep depression that they feel hopeless about things ever improving. It’s tragic they don’t realize that feelings are temporary, and that their depression will lift over time.
Student-athletes are at a greater risk for suicide due to a culture that celebrates toughness and denigrates vulnerability. Athletes have to be warriors in their sport, but it’s important to be real when you walk off the field. It’s okay to feel the gamut of emotions. It’s fine to cry. It’s also fine not to cry. Accept your feelings and understand that each person has a unique way of grieving. There is no “right” way to grieve.
If you are distressed or having suicidal thoughts or urges, please tell someone (parent, sibling, teammate, coach, athletic trainer, physician, psychologist, strength coach, faculty, dietitian, etc.) Telling someone is the first step to feeling better.
How do we take care of ourselves in times like this?
* Practice deep, belly breaths to decrease stress and help sleep
* Engage in your routine of class and practice if it feels helpful, or ask your coach about taking a break if you need rest. Exercise can be an effective coping strategy if you feel up for practice.
* Seek support from your team and family. It’s not morbid to talk about Kosta—those who were closer to him may wish to share stories about him. Try not to be alone for extended time periods these first few days.
* Try to get regular sleep and nutrition
* Talk to a counselor or spiritual advisor
Jen Carter, PhD and Steve Graef PhD, Sport Psychology 614-293-3600 (Your athletic trainer has our cell phone and direct office numbers)
Student Life Counseling & Consultation Service, 4th Floor Younkin, 614-292-5766 (CCS has “urgent” appointments available and students directly impacted by this tragedy will be prioritized for services)
CCS Self-Help for Grief