McKinley's death moves Woody Paige to share his depression story

If you watch ESPN's "Around The Horn" or keep up with America's most prominent sports columnists, you know of Woody Paige. He's written for the Denver Post for 29 years, but is probably better known now for the goofball character he sometimes plays on ESPN.

The tragic suicide of Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley(notes) hit close to home with Paige, because, as he wrote in his column Thursday, he's been suicidal himself. He went so far as to create a detailed plan of how he'd do it.

The last, desperate, despondent, despicable act was all planned out. The Broncos were playing on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2002, against the 49ers. I would fly into San Francisco the day before, drive up to Napa Valley, enjoy a bottle of expensive red wine and check into a nice inn. The next morning I would head over to the coast and swim out in the Pacific Ocean far enough that I couldn't make it back to the beach.

My death would be termed an "accidental drowning," and my family and few friends would be horrified, but spared the humiliation.

I figured out the details while laying on the sofa staring at the ceiling for hours, as I did daily, and swallowing the pills a prominent Denver psychiatrist had prescribed over a period of months — Prozac, Ritalin, Xanax, Valium, Ambien and Zoloft — and swilling Jack Daniel's.

I had everything to live for, but wanted nothing more than to die.

I was suffering from deep depression.

Fortunately, a friend intervened and helped Paige get medical attention. That was eight years ago.

If he can share this column and still appear on television every day, I'd guess he's doing all right now. But I think that's part of the point he's trying to make here -- it's not necessarily going to be obvious when someone, even someone you're very close to, is suffering from depression.

Depression doesn't discriminate. It can hit people who, on the surface, have everything going for them. Like, for example, young NFL players with their whole lives ahead of them. Depression isn't always logical or rational, but it's powerful, it's misunderstood and it's more widespread than most people imagine.

Paige passed on a link to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and I'll do the same. Here's its website, and if you or someone you know is in need of immediate help, it urges you to call 1-800-273-TALK.