Credit: Geoffery Kehrig/Flickr
The summer of 2011 was a tough one for the hockey community. Fans, teams and players alike were forced to mourn the loss of many National Hockey League (NHL) players, some of them teammates. The toughest part for this tight-knit community was the fact that some of these losses could have potentially been avoided. It’s known that one of those players, former Toronto Maple Leaf Wade Belak, committed suicide. (Source: Daily Mail) It’s also widely known that Vancouver Canucks forward Rick Rypien battled depression for many years, something which forced him to take two leaves of absence during his NHL career. (Source: New York Times) On the other hand, New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard’s death was ruled to be an accidental overdose of alcohol and oxycodone. (Source: ESPN)
With the knowledge that all three deaths were either accidental or an apparent suicide we’re then forced to find something all three had in common. That didn’t take too long, as all three were NHL enforcers. (Source: CNN) Of course, this news makes you wonder, especially in the cases of Rypien and Belak, if they thought getting help would be a sign of weakness. It’s a legitimate idea, not only in the NHL but worldwide, as many people fight a daily battle with mental illness but are too afraid to get help for fear of being thought of as weak.
The good thing to come from these deaths was that it put a spotlight on mental illnesses. Many survivors shared their stories, myself included as can be seen here. NHL players, led by Rypien’s close friend and former Canuck teammate Kevin Bieksa, helped as well by creating and promoting a website, mindcheck.ca, dedicated to helping educate and raise awareness about mental health issues. (Source: YouTube)
Being that this past week was Mental Health Awareness Week I believe now is the best time to pay tribute to these players while also raising awareness about mental health. I’ve done my part by sharing my story regarding the depression battle I faced; now it’s your turn. Also, if you or someone you know is battling some type of mental illness please get help. There’s no shame in doing that; it could even save a life!
*Lauren Burg is an NHL Featured Writer for 110 Sportz Talk. An avid hockey, mainly Tampa Bay Lightning fan, Lauren enjoys writing about all things related to hockey. You can contact Lauren on Twitter, @TBLightning491, or e-mail her directly at email@example.com.*