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Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

*Disclaimer* This post includes details that could trigger those who struggle with mental health issues.

Hyeon “EFFECT” Hwang has formally announced his retirement from competitive gaming. The professional Overwatch player was a member of the Overwatch League’s Dallas Fuel at the time of his retirement.

EFFECT has been a star DPS player for the Dallas Fuel since the opening day of the Overwatch League and leaves behind a long list of memorable plays.

In an emotional post to Facebook which was translated by @swingchip930, EFFECT gives an in-depth look at his current mental health struggles. “I always carry a sense of shame around with me, but some days that feeling of shame gets so severe, that I get strong urges to kill myself,” he opens up.

He goes on to talk about how these struggles are not new and there was a point where games like Overwatch were used to escape these thoughts.
“I needed something to forget this sense of shame. The best escape was video games, of course,” he said. “If I played games I couldn’t think of anything else because I had to focus on what was at hand, and whenever I carried a match, or advanced in rankings, I felt like I had become the main character of the game. ”

These days are behind him as playing Overwatch turned from an escape to a prison all on its own and the sense of achievement that came with reaching the next level couldn’t bandage a deeper wound any longer. He cites a lack of change in Overwatch as part of the reason it doesn’t hold the same ability to help him cope, to give him a reprieve. “Overwatch hasn’t changed at all. The game itself couldn’t tug at my interest anymore and I couldn’t become the star. The same comps, the same maps, the same strategies,” he explained.

Returning from a break from the game and return home to South Korea during season one, the game didn’t draw him back into the strenuous schedule. “When I took my break, my physical form got to the worst possible state, so I should have practiced like my life depended on it but it wasn’t fun. I couldn’t even feel the allure of becoming a star anymore.”

This led to a new depth in his mental health struggles, culminating in self-harm. “Because the negative thoughts and shame started permeating my thoughts while I was doing nothing else, when I came to my senses I realized I’d been self-harming. I’d fallen into a moment’s depression and made the wrong decision. When I thought to myself “The depression inside of me has become this big”, I felt afraid. Because I felt like if I continued on like this, I might eventually kill myself in a heated moment.”

EFFECT is set on stepping away from the competitive scene to seek help, and we applaud him for it. ” I don’t want to foolishly act upon it and commit something like suicide. But no matter how I think about it, I think I need healing. I think I need to consult with doctors. I feel the need to block these growing negative thoughts. I feel like if I can’t stop this, my emotions will become like that of a landslide, and bury me and swallow me up.”

Mental health is important and in a role that puts you in the public eye where you receive constant criticisms things can come at you in ways you’ve never experienced before.

We wish Hyeon the speediest of recoveries.

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“We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals,” – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 for those located in the United States. For those outside of the United States, you can use the following numbers:

UK (Samaritans): 116 123

Australia: 131114

France: 0145394000

Germany: 08001810771

Italy: 800860022

Spain: 914590050

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