The suicide of 29-year-old footballer Diego Galo of Amateur First Division club Sportivo Bella Italia prompted calls for mental health assistance to players nationwide following a string of similar events over the past few years, it was reported in Montevideo.
Galo had written a letter on his WhatsApp status mentioning his depression last Friday. His body was found on a beach in the Kibon area thanks to video surveillance cameras, Interior Ministry authorities confirmed Monday.
His Sportivo Bella Italia teammates described him as a brave defender and a great person and asked national authorities and football guilds to take urgent measures on mental health. Let it not remain just words and speeches, they wrote on social media.
Despite his lesser notoriety, Galo's case is just another in a series of similar events in the past few years with the deaths of Santiago Morro García, Maximiliano Castro, Emiliano Cabrera, Williams Martínez, and Waldemar Victorino, who took his own life with a firearm in August this year, aged 71. He had collected 33 caps, scoring 15 goals for La Celeste. He had won the Libertadores Cup with Montevideo's Nacional among other career achievements. After his glory days, he was said to be out of work and going through financial hardships.
Maximiliano Castro, who had played professionally until 2008, was found dead in August 2021 at the age of 46. The cause of death was ruled as suicide. He then became the third former Uruguayan player to pass away in similar circumstances in two weeks and the fourth that year. The previous month, the 38-year-old defender Williams Martínez of the Second Division Villa Teresa took his own life days after being sidelined from active playing after falling ill with Covid-19 in June. Martínez had played for England's West Bromwich Albion and France's Reims.
Less than a week after Martínez's death, the 27-year-old Emiliano Cabrera killed himself. He was playing professional football in Uruguay's minor leagues. And in February that year, Santiago “Morro” García who had been playing for Argentina's First Division team Godoy Cruz in Mendoza, also took his own life while negotiations regarding his contract renewal were going on. Martínez and García had been teammates in 2014, at Uruguay's River Plate.
According to Uruguayan health authorities, 80.92% of people who commit suicide are men, but women account for most suicide attempts.