OSU student athlete's launch campaign #DamWorthIt to talk mental health, suicide

(KPTV)

As the news of Washington State University Quarterback Tyler Hilinski taking his own life is felt across the country, Oregon students athletes are working to let others know they are not alone.

Two student athletes at Oregon State University, gymnast Taylor Ricci and soccer player Nathan Braaten, started a campaign called #DamWorthIt. After the death of two fellow athletes to suicide, the duo wanted to do something so they began the campaign.

“You realize it is a big issue and we need to start doing something to really address it," Braaten said.

He adds in the summer of 2016 he felt the impact first hand, a teammate took his own life.

“During the summer after my first year we actually lost a teammate of ours, John Chambers," Braaten said.

In that time, he along with Ricci, created the campaign to lead a conversation about mental health, suicide and the pressures felt by student athletes.

“Those sort of pressures really add up. You are coming to practice every day for four hours a day and you are kinda of looking for, you are striving for perfection," Braaten said.

Since October they two have been working with the university to reach out to students who may feel that pressure is too much, and to let them know they are not alone.

“It grew into something that I hope can change lives," Braaten said. "Something that people can look to and get hope from.”

On Tuesday night when Braaten heard the news of Hilinski's death he says it hit close to home.

“It was heart breaking when I heard about that. I was torn up, it was a hard thing to read," Braaten said.

Seeing the news has only reinforced in him that they still have work to do to make sure everyone knows that their life matters.

“If we could save one life, that would be #DamWorthIt, it would be an accomplishment," Braaten said.

On Thursday night at the men's basketball game against UCLA, student athletes and staff from the Counseling and Psychological Services will be on hand to talk with people and spread the message of the campaign.

More information about the campaign can be found on the OSU Athletics website.

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