Tag: depression

Colin Wilson, David Legwand, Shea Weber

Wade Belak laid to rest today; Tie Domi speaks up about depression


Friends and family of Wade Belak said their final good-byes to their fallen friend in Nashville as Belak’s funeral was held Sunday morning. The funeral was a private ceremony closed off to the public and while it’s still unknown exactly how Belak died, speculation continues to swirl over how depression played a role in his mental state. While that cloud still lingers on, his former teammates remembered him as one of the nicest guys off the ice.

Past teammates from Belak’s days in Toronto with the Maple Leafs as well as his most recent teammates from Nashville have talked about what a special guy he was. David Legwand even took out a full page advertisement in a Nashville newspaper to remember him by.

The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper caught up with former Toronto teammate of Belak’s, Tie Domi, to get his reflections on a guy who died too young. Domi said that the talk of Belak’s struggle with depression may have played a role in his death.

Following the service, Domi intimated that Belak may have suffered from depression, and it was a contributing factor in his death.

“This has to do with depression and getting the right message out there,” Domi said. “That depression can be beat. That’s what I want to do for him and his family is get the right message out there. Because the wrong message has been sent. Not just about hockey. This is about life. There are 3,500 people in Canada who commit suicide a year, 80 percent of them are men.”

Added Domi, “Wade was alone and he can’t be alone when you have these things going on. You have to call somebody.”

The cause of learning more about depression and finding ways to combat it and help those dealing with it on a daily basis is one that’s worth being educated about. If it proves to be true that Belak committed suicide, it makes an already sad story and makes it sadder. After talk from Belak’s mother and TSN host Michael Landsberg about how they knew of Belak’s struggle with depression, it would be tough to see that he took his life because it got to be too much for him.

Nothing is going to help bring him back, but if his death proves to be an example for people to learn about the perils of depression, Belak’s legacy could prove to help people with their own lives and mental health.

Wade Belak’s mother says he suffered from depression

Wade Belak

Wade Belak’s tragic death has created debate and discussion throughout the hockey world.

From seeing other former players come out and put pressure on the NHL and NHLPA to do things to better assist players to the league and the union saying they’ll team up to start improving things, it’s been a terrible summer for the league and for those who care for its players.

As for what ailed Wade Belak, who’s believed to have committed suicide, his mother says that he suffered silently with the same issue that addled Rick Rypien: Depression.

James Mirtle from The Globe & Mail shares the story.

 Speaking from Nashville, where Belak’s funeral will be held Sunday afternoon, Lorraine Belak told the CBC on Friday that the family believed he was in “control” of the problem.

“I think he was taking control of that,” she said. “We didn’t talk about it all the time, or a lot.

“It’s extremely difficult to wrap our heads around this. But we are trying to cope the best we can.”

Two players dead over the course of a month and both dealt with depression problems. Depression is a difficult problem because many who suffer from it do so privately never wanting to put on a public face that shows pain. Others don’t want to their family and friends to worry about them.

In Belak’s case, given what others have said about him after his death, many never seemed to know that he was struggling with depression. With his mother saying she knew as well as TSN host Michael Landsberg also confirming Belak’s personal ordeal, it shows how an illness like this can go unnoticed and unknown by even those that work with him daily.

It’s so sad to see these things come to a head in such terrible ways. Seeing someone get to a point where they feel their only escape is to end their own life is the most tragic and terrible situation and one that affects everyone around them after the fact. Getting players and people the help they need when they feel hopeless is something that hockey fans are getting to know all too much about now.

Wade Belak’s funeral will take place in Nashville on Sunday

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While the hockey world and various pundits try to make sense of Wade Belak’s death, the former fighting defenseman’s family, friends and colleagues also must move on. A big part of the grieving process will happen in Nashville, where his funeral will take place on Sunday. Belak played his final NHL games with the Nashville Predators.

In the mean time, the search for answers will continue as details emerge. The Toronto Sun’s Dave Feschuk wrote that two anonymous sources claimed that Belak struggled with depression and quietly used medication to try to deal with his issues. It’s not a shocking revelation, but it’s important to try to maintain a sense of perspective even in a time of awful loss.

To some, that column will fuel a reaction that his former teams, the league or someone else was to blame for this sad story. The NHL and its players association hope to find ways to improve their process, but it’s naive to believe that a larger entity can solve its players’ issues with some broad stroke. If there’s one prevailing thought that is emerging from the many columns and criticisms, it’s that the culture needs to change.

That’s not something that you can expect to change overnight, though; some might assail the “macho” culture of hockey yet that same person may glorify the brazen action of a player giving up his body to block a shot once the action picks up again. The league should examine how it opens up the lines of communication between players, teams and health care professionals, but ultimately it might take some time before hockey people are willing to be honest about their problems.

After all, Belak and others aren’t just fighting on the ice, they’re often fighting to keep their jobs. One can see the double-edged sword that enforcers would deal with: if they decide to break their silence, they might not be in the NHL much longer because they may be deemed unfit to complete their duties.

This may be an issue that can only be realistically solved by baby steps. The NHL is probably justified in trying to keep players’ troubles as confidential as possible for all the reasons stated in the previous paragraphs. If you ask me, the best they can do is find practical ways to encourage players to seek help if they need it, on their own terms. Maybe that means investigating troubling signs a little more deeply or consulting any number of different avenues, but to claim that there’s a quick-fix solution is to ignore human nature and a complicated issue like depression.

Hopefully we’ll remember Belak and other recently deceased hockey players for more than just their untimely ends, even if their deaths might give others the push they needed to get the help they’ve been missing.