Australian Kyrgios says depression left him with suicidal thoughts

Tennis - Australian Open - Men's Doubles Final - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 29, 2022 Australia's Nick Kyrgios during the final with Thanasi Kokkinakis against Australia's Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Feb 24 (Reuters) - Australian Nick Kyrgios opened up on his mental health struggles in a social media post on Thursday, saying he had suicidal thoughts and the period around the 2019 Australian Open was "one of my darkest periods".

The 26-year-old, who said last year that he was unsure how long he would continue to play professional tennis, is a fan-favourite and the atmosphere at his matches at the Grand Slam in Melbourne resembles Davis Cup ties.

In an Instagram post accompanied by a picture of him, Kyrgios said three years back he was in a very bad place mentally.

"If you look closely, on my right arm you can see my self harm," he said. "I was having suicidal thoughts and was literally struggling to get out of bed, let alone play in front of millions.

"I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushed away family and friends. I felt as if I couldn't talk or trust anyone.

"This was a result of not opening up and refusing to lean on my loved ones and simply just push myself little by little to be positive."

Former world number one Naomi Osaka brought the issue under the spotlight when she pulled out of Grand Slam events and also chunks of the 2021 season over her mental well-being.

Former world number 13 Kyrgios, who has slipped to 137th in the rankings after missing parts of last season due to injuries, urged everyone to open up.

"I know that day-to-day life can seem extremely exhausting, impossible at times," he said, adding that he will be available to anyone who wanted to talk.

"I understand that you feel if you open up it may make you feel weak, or scared. I'm telling you right now, it's OK, you are not alone.

"I'm proud to say I've completely turned myself around and have a completely different outlook on everything, I don't take one moment for granted. I want you to be able to reach your full potential and smile. This life is beautiful."

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Pritha Sarkar

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