Former Detroit Lions quarterback Eric Hipple speaks to Cassopolis students Monday about depression and mental health. Hipple also spoke Monday evening with their parents. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

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Hipple speaks in Cassopolis

Published 7:26pm Monday, November 26, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — As part of Cassopolis’ Ranger Wellness Day, former Detroit Lions quarterback Eric Hipple spent the day at Ross Beatty High School speaking with students about mental health.

He returned Monday evening to speak with their parents.

Hipple discussed how to cope with depression by telling his own personal history with the illness. Since his son committed suicide, Hipple has devoted his life to creating awareness about depressive illnesses.

“Originally, when I first started coming out and talking about these issues it helped a lot,” Hipple said. “I think that’s one of the problems we have with a death like suicide. People don’t have a chance to express how they feel. Nobody ever walks up and asked them what happened. They do in other types of death, so they at least have a chance to talk to somebody about it. In this type of death, they don’t.

“So it’s really difficult for quite a while. I beat myself up quite a bit. As time grew, I realized there was something positive to be had by this. The response of the students and their accepting of it, it was very helpful to me.”

Among the things Hipple spoke about to the Cassopolis students are the symptoms of depression, being aware of those symptoms, the pieces of the mental health, having a positive attitude and setting goals.

What does Hipple think when he looks at a crowd of young faces and sees himself making a positive impact?

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “These guys still have every bit of life available and to look forward to. And yet, they get hung up on the same things we get hung up on and the other issues they have that seem overwhelming to them. If we can just lift that veil and say it’s not overwhelming and there are ways through it, and believe me, you are going to be a different person in six or seven years from now.”

Hipple was at Ross Beatty High School Monday as part of Cassopolis’ Safe and Supportive Schools “Think Respect” campaign, which is designed to bring awareness and education to students, parents, school staff and local community members about creating a healthy lifestyle.

The district received a grant from the Michigan Department of Education that allows the district to improve academics through a healthy lifestyle, anti-bullying programs, parents, youth engagement and other interventions.

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