Retired MLB player survives suicide attempt, rolling out 'Better Universe' to save others

Doctors can't believe retired MLB player Drew Robinson survived after he put a gun to his head on a dark, lonely night.

Robinson may have lost his eye, but he gained a new spunk for life. Now he's teaming up with his psychiatrist through a new foundation called a ‘Better Universe’ to help everyone have access to mental healthcare.

He played baseball his entire life and now cherishes his successful baseball career even more. Robinson played with the Texas Rangers and the Saint Louis Cardinals, but his life took a troubling tumble after injuring his arm.

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"I call them the three ingredients for recipe of disaster where at the end of 2019 season, I had a season-ending injury that needed surgery, then was ultimately released with a couple months left in the season, so I was sent home and really just kind of fearful of my career coming to an end," explains Robinson.

He says he didn't know who he was without baseball. After he broke off the engagement with his fiancé, Robinson felt lonely and lost at the beginning of the pandemic. He didn't think he could deal with it anymore and took action to end his life. His failed attempt ended up refueling his passion to live.

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"It's a pretty extreme situation right after my attempt, I survived physically, somehow! On paper, I should not be here, I should not have made it through. For me, I just had nothing left to lose. I just was supposed to be here. And then immediately, I felt like I could possibly use all these things that I went through with my life experience, my journey, and everything I tried to use in a positive way to try to help people not feel that way," he said.

Robinson is truly a comeback kid! After signing with the San Francisco Giants, he hit his first home run with the team, more meaningful than ever, since he was now having to play with only one eye after his attempt at suicide. He soon decided though to take a different set of skills off-field and is now the mental health advocate for the Giants.

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"I work myself as the bridge between the players and our psychologists and our professionals to try to encourage them that this is a very beneficial and very rare resource to have - basically an on-call therapist and just getting to know it is a sign of strength, not weakness, and it's actually encouraged. It's something that the Giants invested in because they know it's beneficial," says Robinson.

Dr. Sam Zand has helped Robinson after his attempt to take his life. He believes we can all learn from his dramatic turnaround.

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"It's not what we do with the traumas or stresses that we go through, but it's how we deal with it and the growth that Drew has shown in the last two, three years is phenomenal, because he'll be the first one to say, still have some struggles, but we all do. That's really what we're trying to share is that we all have a mental health journey, but can we seek the help that we need, can we be there for ourselves," stated Dr. Zand. 

They want everyone to feel empowered when reaching out for help.

"When we hold things in, we don't share with our loved ones or a professional, we start to make up stories about our life that just aren't true. And these perspectives that we hold on to can be very disempowering to let negative self-talk fester. So, the strength that Drew has shown is just to be authentic and honest with yourself and with others, so that we don't have to kind of feed into any of the negative self-thoughts that we have and to be able to normalize that we are just going through something, and that's okay," explains Dr. Zand.

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Many people make sure they work out their bodies. However, Robinson hopes you'll consider working out your mind as it works for him. "I just take time to address it. I spend an hour a week, two hours a week. I do my self-care routines in the mornings or afternoons and just find my competence in that and just being my most authentic self and being unapologetically myself," Robinson says with a smile.

He's now rolling out the Better Universe Foundation to provide a real game changer, raising awareness about mental health, with an important thought in mind. "Knowing that it's a process and not an overnight fix. I think it's so important. So being open-minded to finding your fit with your provider to medication or these other modalities. There's a lot of options out there. There's always help, and you'll always be heard and be understood," said Robinson.

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He shares some ideas that have been FDA-approved to treat depression.  "We're trying to highlight and destigmatize things like psychedelic therapy, in the form of ketamine, or neurostimulation in the form of TMS. These are new things the FDA has approved in the last five to ten years that really can help people find optimism and new ways of improving their mental health," explains Robinson.

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