Last July, former NFL Quarterback Erik Kramer shot himself in the head and miraculously lived to tell the story of his attempted suicide.
Outside the Lines producer David Lubbers and reporter Steve Delsohn had the unique opportunity to sit down with Kramer for his first televised interview since the attempt to take his own life. “Suicide Survivor” will air at 9 a.m. ET on Sunday, August 7 on ESPN.
– Steve Delsohn, reporter
“I have been doing this for many years and this is a first for me. I have never interviewed someone who shot himself in the head and survived,” Lubbers said. “It’s a perspective I’ve never heard before and one I’m sure most viewers have never heard before either.”
Despite the sensitivity of the subject, Delsohn approaches all of his interviews the same way.
“I try to write short, open-ended, questions that will give the interviewee room to be expansive. The key is to listen, and that’s even more essential in an emotionally-charged interview,” Delsohn said. “You can’t be self-absorbed, or thinking about your next question, when someone is talking about their sadness or pain.”
The segment opens with Kramer reading an excerpt from a letter he wrote before his attempted suicide.
“The idea of somebody reading their suicide note is unusual in its own right,” Lubbers said. “Especially someone who’s shot himself in the head, and Erik was able to read his after the fact. It’s a pretty unique situation.”
What is even more unique about Kramer reading his letters is his demeanor throughout the entire interview. He sits very still and reads in a calm, monotone voice.
That same voice was once recognizable during his broadcasting career but has since been affected by the bullet tearing a hole in his tongue.
“You have these perceptions of what you think it’s going to be like talking to someone whose been through what he’s been through,” Lubbers said. “I was sort of surprised by his tone. He was very matter of fact, very frank, but in a way it actually lends an interesting air to the piece.
“Erik was extremely gracious and open with wanting to tell his story,” he said. “He didn’t shy away from any questions and once we had that feeling going in we realized this interview could be very special.”
Lubbers said the original goal for the piece wasn’t about bringing awareness to depression; however, that’s exactly what this story does.
“My goal was simply to have an honest interaction about a difficult subject,” Delson said. “Thanks to Erik Kramer, I think we accomplished that.”