Ryan Mink from BaltimoreRavens.com recently posted a story about Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst. It’s a story of severe personal struggle – a story that most would keep hidden in the closet to avoid embarrassment, ridicule and even unwanted pity.
Four years ago, when Hurst wasn’t even on the radar screen for most Ravens fans, the South Carolina Gamecock attempted suicide.
For most of us, suicide is an unsavory and selfish act, far removed from thought. Suicide has been labeled as a despicable act of cowardice – the ultimate cop out when faced with adversity.
I’ve shared such thoughts with friends and family members. And I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Hayden Hurst softened my outlook on suicide dramatically when he opened up recently to the Florida Times-Union. The promising Raven explained his attempted suicide.
“I woke up in the hospital. I didn’t know what happened. I had to have a friend fill me in. Apparently, I had been drinking and went home to my apartment and cut my wrist. I laid in a puddle of blood and one of my friends found me and called 911.”
“If I had a gun that night, I probably would have killed myself. I’m glad I only had a knife. It’d be a totally different story.”
For those fortunate enough to escape suicidal thought, it’s difficult to wrap your mind around such desperation – to walk in the shoes of someone with so much mental anguish, that death is a better alternative than seeking help. For those who harbor thoughts of taking their own lives, reality is painful. Maybe seeking help adds to the pain and perhaps a separation from reality through an altered state of mind is a temporary solution. Hurst admits to following that path. He explained it to the Times-Union this way:
“The goal was always just to get blacked out. Anything, Xanax or cocaine, that made that feeling go away, I tried it. Not the brightest of ideas I ever had.”
Hurst’s uncle committed suicide in 2008, and his cousin did the same two years later. Depression is known to run in families, suggesting that genetics contribute to the risk of developing the disease. Hurst’s family has come to the aid of Hayden. He’s now clean and to his credit, Hayden has stepped up to help others with similar struggles through the Hayden Hurst Family Foundation.
It’s a brave act to place one’s personal demons on full display for the world to see. It’s even braver for a public figure with more to lose, to do the same. I can’t say enough about Hayden Hurst’s courage. My respect for him as a man has soared and as he continues to overcome the adversity he faces while serving as a great example to others to seek help, I have no doubt that his efforts to help others, will serve as a compass for success along his journey in the NFL.
And lastly, to all listening who are confronted by challenges similar to Hayden’s or if you know someone with such pain, may you find the strength to seek help. It’s there waiting for you. My love and prayers to you all.