Friday morning, news broke that former Ohio State offensive lineman Zach Slagle had passed away. According to multiple reports, as well as the final post on his Facebook page, the cause of death was suicide. Slagle's former teammate, Kirk Barton, shared the post on Twitter and pleaded with those hurting to get help.
"I'm sorry," Slagle wrote on FB. "Live life to your fullest, love to the extreme, never say no! I love all you guys, cherish the good times, cherish the memories...I've lived a full life that can't be compared to any other, don't cry, don't mourn, but rejoice in a life well lived! I loved and spread my love as much as I could...don't blame or point fingers, be amicable, and rejoice in celebration!"
Slagle also included the hashtag, #CheckforCTE in his final post.
Obviously, this unfortunate passing sparked countless reactions of varying degrees. Former teammate Jake Ballard set up a GoFundMe to help pay for the funeral costs while others offered their condolences.
Let's look through some of the reactions to this tragic event.
Jake Ballard, who played with Slagle at Ohio State University before winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants, is on a mission to help alleviate the costs associated with his former teammate passing away. Ballard started a GoFundMe to raise $15,000 for Slagle's family.
In his final post, Slagle hinted at his plans, but he didn't want his friends and family to mourn. Instead, he said multiple times that he wanted everyone to celebrate a life that was well-lived. He had no regrets, and he wanted those around him to know that he loved and spread his love. His death was tragic, but Slagle doesn't want to be remembered for his passing. He wants to be remembered for his life.
Just awful news about former Buckeye Zach Slagle. 2nd teammate from Ohio State to commit suicide. If you are ever down, please get some help. It’s not worth it and people love you 😔 #RIP pic.twitter.com/Z33WVT5rdF— Kirk Barton (@kirk_barton) August 8, 2019
With Slagle adding the hashtag #CheckforCTE to his final post on Facebook, there are immediate concerns about the longterm effects of playing a violent sport. The effects of repeated concussions have been examined for years on end, and Slagle's death will push this conversation forward. He is the second former Ohio State athlete to take his own life after Kosta Karageorge did so back in 2014. At the time, the football player and wrestler sent a text message to his mother saying that concussions had his head messed up.
#OhioState lost a member of the family yesterday. RIP Zach Slagle.
RIP Chico Nelson— Buckeye SloopCast (@SloopCast) August 9, 2019
RIP Kosta Karageorge
Going through something as tragic as losing a loved one to suicide is not easy. The death tears apart loved ones in a way that can never be truly repaired. This man knows that pain all too well and is hoping that Slagle's friends and family can ultimately find peace.
So sorry, lost my brother/best friend to suicide and my family will never be the same, it takes a piece of your soul. Praying for peace for everyone impacted!! 🙏🙏— ❌ichael Buckley 🅾️-🙌🏻-❗️-⭕️ 🏈🏖💻🕹 (@buckeyebuckley) August 9, 2019
There were countless Ohio State University fans and individuals that were close to Slagle who offered their condolences on Twitter. Many also stated that they would be contributing to the fundraising campaign in any way possible. As this commenter wrote, "Never leave a Buckeye behind or their family."
Done. Never leave a Buckeye behind or their family. Thank you Jake for doing this.— Kirk No-yes (@kirk_noyes) August 9, 2019
Sometimes, there is nothing that you can do following a tragic event than to simply offer condolences. Ohio State has dealt with two untimely deaths in the past two years after losing former defensive end Mike Kudla in July 2018. The Buckeyes community has struggled to deal with the loss, and Slagle's passing has only added to the pain.
Condolences to the #OhioState #Buckeyes family on the passing of Zach Slagle. Just last year the school sadly lost Mike Kudla at age 34. Thoughts are with Slagle's family, friends and former teammates.— Mr. Kay121972 (@NEPatsfan81) August 9, 2019
With the similarities between Slagle's death and Karageorge's, it was apparent that both men were in significant pain. As Melissa wrote on Twitter, both players are free of their demons, and she believes that they are with each other in heaven. The tragic deaths will never be forgotten, nor will the players.
Dear #KostaKarageorge, we lost former #OhioState football player Zach Slagle to suicide last night. I am sure u were there to greet him @ the gate when he arrived in heaven. Both of u look after our Buckeyes please. You both are free of ur demons now. 😥🌰🏈— Melissa (@MelBear26) August 9, 2019
Whether they knew Slagle on a personal level or only watched him play for Ohio State University, those who responded to the news of his death did so with the intention of spreading love to those in need. Keeping the Slagle family in their minds was critical, as was supporting them in any way possible. Even if it was simply praying for the family, supporters offered to do so after hearing the news on Friday morning.