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Chris Kirkland wants social media trolls to be jailed

Ex-Coventry, Liverpool, Wigan, Sheff Wed player Chris Kirkland wants social media trolls to be jailed due to the impact it has on the victims mental health.

The former professional goalkeeper says greater deterrents must be put in place in order to stop people abusing players online.

Kirkland has previously spoken out about his own struggles with mental health, and posted on Twitter last July to say he had checked into a rehabilitation centre in north Wales after historic problems flared up again.

He told the PA news agency: “Social media, it’s poison.

“You can use it for good, but unfortunately a lot of people don’t seem to realise that. You’ve got people going on there saying ‘I wish you were dead’, ‘I hope your kid dies of cancer’.

“People can be traced and they’ve got to make examples of these people – I’m talking jail sentences. That’s the only way you’re going to stop it. At the minute you can put anything on.

“I was at the gym a couple of months ago and a lady said to me ‘I just want to say thanks for coming out and talking, my son was having a bad time at school with bullies on social media’.

 

Players often contact him as a first port of call when they do not feel comfortable speaking to their clubs.

“I’ve been to see players, speak to them on the phone, some are not ready to do anything about it yet, some will,” he said.

“It can be addictions, trauma, people struggling with injuries who have been out for long periods.

“It really varies – pressures of playing the game, it’s everything you can imagine.”

Kirkland says he first began to struggle with mental health after leaving Wigan for Sheffield Wednesday in 2012.

“Since moving up to Liverpool in 2001 we lived in the same area, everything was fine,” he said.

“All of a sudden I had to start travelling, I wasn’t comfortable being away from home for long periods. I’d get stuck in traffic and there were panics. It started with that really.

“Sheffield Wednesday knew there was an issue but they thought it was with Leeona my wife, they were incredible with us. But it slowly got worse as time went on.

“I left there in 2015 even though they wanted me to sign again – and I did want to sign again because it was so good and the fans were amazing. But I knew I needed to get somewhere closer to home and I thought that would fix the problem, but it didn’t.

“By then I was too far gone.”

In more recent times, he’s been going to counselling and posted on Twitter last July to say he had checked into a rehabilitation centre in north Wales after historic problems flared up again.

He is planning on visiting schools and prisons for the LFC Foundation, something which is helping him to stay active.

After being asked about what his stay at Parkland Place taught him, he replied: “How to rationalise things. I know now that exercise is a massive thing – I need to exercise every day.

“I know not to withdraw myself, I have to get up and do something, that’s why I’m looking forward to starting with the foundation, I’ll be out a lot of the time now. I still have bad days when I feel like crap, but I know they don’t last.”

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