Dallas Cowboys legendary sack master Charles Haley has found a target that goes far beyond autumn Sundays.
Dallas-Fort Worth CBS affiliate KTVT recently highlighted Haley's crusade to remove the stigma associated with mental illnesses. The former linebacker hopes his advice resonates beyond Mental Health Awareness Month, which has been observed annually in May since 1949.
Haley during his playing days
Haley in 2019
Speaking at the Menninger Clinic's Annual Luncheon in Houston, Haley mentioned that his bipolar disorder, diagnosed after his playing career, made him think that living with a mental illness was "okay." He stayed away from friends and colleagues, which led to sense of isolation.
He disclosed to the Houston crowd that he once tried to take his own life, but has now dedicated himself to making sure young people never get to that point. Haley said the key is being unafraid to seek help.
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"I don't want two or three, I want one thing to live for," Haley said. "If you can lean on that when hard times come, you've already found the answer."
Haley also implored parents and caregivers to play an active role in the solution, as they can be too proud to admit that their child is struggling.
"Let people who know help them. (If) you're telling other people and trying to explain their way out of it …you're not helping," Haley said. "At any moment, we can make changes in our lives. All we got to do is ask for help."
Enshrined into the Cowboys' Ring of Honor in 2011, Haley spent five years with Dallas (1992-96) and was a part of the franchise's last three Super Bowl wins. Combined with his first championship with the San Francisco 49ers, the Pro Football Hall of Famer was part of four Super Bowl-winning teams.