Year: 2023 Source: Communication and Sport. (2023). 1-19. DOI: SIEC No: 20231780

At least five NCAA student athletes died by suicide in spring 2022. The deaths generated national news media attention while underscoring the stressors student-athletes face in relation to mental health. Journalists play an important role in shaping public understanding of issues, including mental health and suicide. By framing issues, journalists can shape the way audiences interpret (a) problems, (b) their causes, (c) their moral implications, and (d) potential treatments. The present study used thematic analysis to understand how four types of news organizations framed the student-athletes’ deaths by suicide in 2022. The study examined 75 stories from national news outlets (e.g., Washington Post), sports publications (e.g., ESPN), student publications (e.g., The Badger Herald at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), and community publications (e.g., The Capital Times in Madison, WI). News stories identified environmental factors (e.g., poor mental health resources, stress) as a problem for student-athletes, while describing misplaced university priorities as a cause. Journalists described a need for universities and the NCAA to improve the depth and breadth of mental health resources for student-athletes, describing the action as a moral imperative. Implications are discussed in relation to sports communication and health communication.