Cusden thanks PCA after suicide attempt
Cusden thanks PCA after suicide attempt

Simon Cusden, the former Kent and Derbyshire fast bowler, has revealed how the PCA Benevolent Fund came to his rescue after he attempted to commit suicide.

Cusden, 32, struggled to come to terms with life after cricket following Derbyshire’s decision to release him at the end of the 2007 season and he became addicted to alcohol.

At his lowest point,  just 16 months ago, Cusden tried to drown himself by tying a rock to his leg while he was living in Sydney but he survived the suicide attempt and later contacted the PCA seeking help.

Within 20 minutes the PCA Benevolent Fund had agreed to support Cusden who spent three months in the Broadway Lodge addiction rehabilitation centre where was admitted within five hours of returning to England.

Cusden has now told his harrowing story in a new film which highlights the wide range of support the PCA Benevolent Fund, which is generously supported by Royal London, offers to past and present cricketers and their immediate family members and to encourage them to seek help when they need it.

“I was drinking two to three bottles of whisky a day for days on end. And then suicidal thoughts came into my head,” Cusden said.

“I was camping once and I thought I would tie a rock to my foot and jump in the river, where the tent was. I thought that as long as the rock was heavy enough then it will do the job. Quite clinically, I jumped in.

“But after maybe a minute or so, my whole body started fighting it. It wasn’t my mind – my mind wanted to stay there until it was over. But something in me wanted to not die. So I swam to the surface, even though this rock was almost too heavy to lift. I climbed out and remember being really annoyed because I couldn’t even kill myself.

“I sat on the grass and thought: ‘I really do only know how to drink.’

“I knew the PCA was fantastic and that the Benevolent Fund was there. I just wasn’t in a position to ask for help. Once I was in that position, I knew that I would be OK but if it wasn’t for the PCA then I would be dead.”

The new PCA Benevolent Fund film has been released to support the PCA Legacy Year Appeal which aims to mark the 50thanniversary of the PCA by raising an additional £250,000 for the Benevolent Fund.

The Benevolent Fund, which was established in 2000, provides a network of support including a 24-hour confidential helpline to help current and former cricketers and their immediate family deal with problems such as drink, drugs or gambling dependency, family issues, bereavement and depression.

With the help of the PCA Benevolent Fund, Cusden is now rebuilding his life in Derby where he has set up his own coaching business.

“I remember the PCA having a chat with me [when playing] and thinking at the time that it was the most ridiculous conversation. Someone said that I needed to think about life after cricket, and I thought: ‘What does that even mean? What is life after cricket?’ What is life outside cricket?’” Cusden said.

“It’s hard to know, looking back, whether it was being in denial about letting go of the cricket dream. In 2004 I played well, I was disciplined, focused and present, 2005 was the comedown year. I thought I was going to continue, it became evident I wasn’t.

“And in 2006 was where it spiralled. I was turning up to training in the mornings drunk. I created this persona that everything was amazing, I’m earning money, I have a beautiful wife.

“The first time I shared any of this was six years after my career finished and by that time, the spiral had got out of control. I didn’t feel I had much hope. I had got sober but now I was back worse than I was before.”

To help the PCA Benevolent Fund to continue providing wide-ranging support you can donate £5 by texting BENF17 £5 to 70070 or by visiting here.