WNBA Star Brittney Griner Reveals Suicide Struggles During Russian Detention

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In a confinement that has shocked nations and provoked heated conversations across borders, WNBA superstar Brittney Griner recently made known her intense struggle during her detention in a Russian prison. Sharing the chilling account of her perceived isolation and creeping despair, she confessed that she had contemplated suicide in the initial few weeks, a revelation that now resounds in the corridors of global discourse surrounding mental health and human rights.

In her first public dialogue since her incarceration began in early 2022, Griner openly talked about her devastating ordeal in an hour-long interview on ABC. The revelations paralleled the looming release of her autobiographical account, “Coming Home”, scheduled to hit the shelves on May 7.

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The ordeal began when Griner, after landing at a Moscow airport, was unexpectedly detained by Russian law enforcement. It was claimed that her luggage contained vape cartridges apparently filled with cannabis-derived oil, which led to drug-related charges against the talented sportswoman.

Her experience was nothing short of harrowing. “The urge to end my own life surged and receded within the first few weeks,” Griner confessed, candidly relaying her desperation to her interviewer, Robin Roberts. “The yearning to flee this eerie limbo overpowered me.” The thought of her body not being returned to her family, if she did carry out the act, was the slender thread that tethered her to life.

Griner’s ordeal overlapped a period of geopolitical unrest, when tensions flared between Russia and the U.S. due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This chapter of her life reached a climax only when she was released in exchange for the notorious Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout.

Before her release, Griner was coerced by her captors into drafting a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Recalling the disheartening episode, she said, “I was compelled to write this letter. The whole script was in Russian. I was forced to express remorse and gratitude towards their cherished leader. I detested every bit of it, but my craving to return home was stronger.”

The anticipation of her return was tinged with disappointment when she boarded the plane and did not find Paul Whelan, her fellow American detainee in Russia, joining her. “I stepped into the plane hoping to see him. I held onto the hope that maybe they would let him join me next. When they shut the doors without him, I was filled with disbelief and distress. They did not let this man return home,” Griner rumbled.

Currently a key player for the Phoenix Mercury, Griner’s homecoming coincides with the WNBA season commencing on May 14.

Despite unparalleled hardship, Griner’s saga illuminates the conversation surrounding mental health and the harrowing reality of incarceration. It reiterates the crucial importance of reaching out and extending support to those struggling with thoughts of suicide. In the U.S., the national suicide and crisis lifeline can be accessed by calling or texting 988. Its online portal, 988lifeline.org, also offers a chat service.