FA Cup: Nathan Cartman on choosing not to take his own life and asking for help

Nathan Cartman and Vicki Cartman, their two children Millie (and Alfie)
"I was wondering why I was even here. I had split with my wife and was living apart from my children. I was working hard and returning home to nothing.

Nathan Cartman, former Leeds United youth team captain is reminiscing about what caused him to consider ending his life last Christmas.

The 31-year old father of two was forced to close his coaching business and his role as a junior Scout for Manchester City.

Covid also ended Cartman's one source of weekly relief from his personal problems: playing for Scarborough Athletic, the seventh tier in English football.

Former Darlington forward, he turned to alcohol to soothe his emotional pain. He reached rock bottom.

Cartman drove to Halifax on 27 December 2020 with the intent of ending his own life. He had previously talked two people into giving up theirs.

BBC Sport tells him that the house had been growing for many months. "I was trying fund my family's home and my apartment with one wage.

"I was drinking more every day, without thinking about the consequences, and I hid it from my family and friends."

Cartman discusses his mental health and suicidal thoughts as he prepares to face Scarborough in Saturday's FA Cup first qualifying round match.

"The purpose behind this is to ask people to stop hiding behind big fake smiles. He says, "Ask for help and make sure to talk to people."

Five weeks later, Nathan Cartman was contemplating suicide (left) and playing at Scarborough Athletic (right).

"I have lost all hope"

Cartman was a Leeds youth team player and shared a home with Fabian Delph. He also played alongside Danny Rose (external-link), who went on to play for England.

He was however the closest to the first team when Gary McAllister invited him to join the squad for the FA Cup tie at Histon, a Cambridgeshire village.

Six months later, his dream of becoming a Elland Road player was over when he was released at age 19. Cartman found work outside of football and settled down with Vicki who shared his love for watching Halifax Town games.

After a break from football, Cartman returned to the game. He scored 36 goals in 35 games for Harrogate Railway Athletic, before signing for Darlington.

His life started to unravel towards the end his third and last season with sixth-tier Yorkshire side Farsley Celtic.

He was already living in Scarborough, where he signed in June 2020.

Cartman says that football was an escape from the stress of his life at the time. "I was scoring consistently and just getting on with the game."

On 5 November, the second national lockdown was in effect. Scarborough stopped Scarborough's season after eight league games. Cartman had scored six goals.

He had nothing to look forward to in football, and his family was in ruin, with mounting debt, heavy drinking, and no hope.

Cartman sat on the edge of a flyover, thinking about how he could end his life right then.

Nathan Cartman (in Red) was active for Scarborough Athletic against South Shields Monday

"I was sitting in the back of a cop car."

Cartman was an expert on the flyover. In 2018, he had successfully talked a female and a male to stop jumping from the structure while driving in their car.

He recalls that he spent five minutes asking him not to do it. "I panicked inside, in case he took my life." He was taken away by the police, who provided the support and help he needed.

Cartman, who had spent Christmas Day alone and was in distress, found himself back in the same place. Cartman was now contemplating taking his own life.

"I went to the family home Christmas Day and ended having a row." He adds that things got heated and he left early. "I ended drinking the rest of my day."

He was full of emotion and alcohol, so he texted his wife early on 27 December to apologize for everything before settling down on the flyover.

"I sat there for five to 10 minutes. It felt like a lifetime," adds Cartman. "The more time you sit there, the more you think'maybe I could turn things around'.

"I was thinking about my kids. Two days later, Millie was born so I knew that. I got back into my car and drove on.

Vicki, who had been unable to reach her husband via text message, alerted police. He was located approximately 25 miles from his wife in Oldham, several hours later.

Cartman recalls that Cartman was "put in the back seat of a police vehicle and they put my on the phone to their mental healthcare people." "People near me asked me why I hadn’t spoken with them about my issues. They didn't want me to burden them."

Millie and Alfie wearing Scarborough Athletic away shirts. The front has Andy's Man Club logo. This mental health charity supported Nathan last Christmas.

"I'm in an even better place"

Eight months later, Cartman is rebuilding his family life. He is now back at the Holmfield, Halifax home with Vicki, Vicki's teaching assistant, and Millie (eight).

He adds, "We've sorted them out over the last few weeks."

"I'm so much happier. I go to work, see my children, and do what is necessary. Alfie plays football and taekwondo, Millie plays football at the Manchester City development centre.

"We have plans to go on a family vacation next summer, and I paid for them to travel to Barcelona and take a tour through the Nou Camp."

After being helped last Christmas, Cartman formed a support group and ran a marathon in April to raise hundreds of pounds for Andy’s Man Club, an external-link men's mental healthcare charity.

Curtis Woodhouse is a former British boxing champion and Premier League footballer. He also runs a social and fitness group for men who are "fighting silent battles every single day".

Scarborough Athletic, seventh place in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, is managed by Jonathan Greening, a former West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United midfielder. Cartman says that they have been a huge help.

He says, "I'm happier and can see a brighter tomorrow." "My message for anyone struggling is that you can overcome any setbacks. There is always a way out.

Talk to someone. These people don't necessarily have to be close friends or relatives. Sometimes it's best to let things out to people who aren't involved in your life.