Atlanta Falcons Tight End Hayden Hurst Wants To Break The Stigma On Mental Health: ‘As Dark As It Gets, I Promise You There Is Someone Out There Who Cares And Loves You’
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst opened up about his story in battling depression and attempting to commit suicide. Hurst is urging and hoping people could hear his story.
Hurst wants you to know, if you’re battling depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or any mental health issue, you’re not alone and to keep fighting, keep going, knowing there’s someone out there who loves you and supports you.
Hurst shared his story to the Falcons media with part one being titled: “Hayden Hurst wanted everything to be over. But, he was given a second chance in life”.
“For whatever reason, God looked down on me and gave me a second shot at this thing and I made a promise, I’m going to make the most out of this opportunity,” Hurst said.
Hurst talked about, before making that promise, a dark season in life with depression and how one night it all caught up to him.
“Depression, when you feel like nobody’s there despite my family being so close and they’re willing to do whatever but when you’re in that headspace and you’re in that dark spot you feel like nobody’s there, nobody cares,” Hurst said. “So I guess for me in those years that’s why I turned to drinking and pills and cocaine, like anything that I could get my hands on to numb that feeling of embarrassment where I wouldn’t have to explain to myself, to my family as to why my life was like unraveling and one night it just caught up to me.”Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons Tight End
Hurst’s family got a call one evening that their son tried to commit suicide.
“At that point I wanted out, I had fought for so long and I just, I wanted it to be over and for some reason I got a second chance at this thing,” Hurst said.
Hurst’s parents immediately rushed to Columbia, South Carolina, where Hurst was a football player at the university.
Hurst said his college coach, Will Muschamp, tried calling the hospital four days in a row but the hospital wouldn’t let coach talk to him. Hurst said having that support system of the people in his life in moments like that is crucial.
“You’re looking for help any way you can get it and for those people to be there for me, really helped save my life,” Hurst said.
Hurst reflected on this season of his life.
“It was the best and the worst thing that has ever happened in my life because when I made that decision, when I was sitting in that hospital room kind of reflecting on everything that I had done, I made a promise to myself, I’m not going to do this again,” Hurst said. “For whatever reason, God looked down on me and gave me a second shot at this thing and I made a promise, I’m going to make the most out of this opportunity.”
Hurst truly did make the most out of the opportunity after that, playing college football at South Carolina, then got drafted in the NFL and is now an Atlanta Falcons tight end.
Hurst’s mom said he never had a drink since that night.
Hurst said he dove straight into football, working out two, three times a day, blocking everything out, diving into the game 100%. Anything football-related, he was participating in it because he wanted to make this work.
Hurst wants you to know that you’re not alone if you’re going through something similar, having suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, or any mental battle.
You’re not alone.
“Keep fighting, keep going because as bad, as dark as it gets, I promise you there is someone out there who cares and loves you and wants to see you succeed at whatever you do,” Hurst said. “It doesn’t have to be professional sports. I promise you there is somebody out there in your life that loves you and that will support you and will help you get out of that situation.”
Talk about turning an almost horrific situation into a new, blossoming, redemption story as Hurst started a foundation with his family that aims to “raise awareness of mental health issues in children and adolescents by funding mental health services and programs through donations and fundraising events.”
Hurst also advocated for his organization on the field after his team played the Cowboys. Hurst went up to Dak Prescott after the game to talk about his foundation and showed the Cowboys quarterback some respect for Prescott opening up about his mental health in what’s been a devastating year for him:
“Me and my mom have a foundation about suicide prevention…respect…you for talking about it,” Hurst told Prescott.
Hurst’s mom called this moment ‘Divine Intervention’ per the Falcons:
“‘Divine intervention’. Those are the words Cathy Hurst used to describe the moment when her son, Hayden Hurst, managed to catch up with Dak Prescott in the moments immediately following the Atlanta Falcons-Dallas Cowboys game back on Sept. 20″ per the Falcons.
The Hayden Hurst Family Foundation: “Many suffer in silence. If we can help open the communication channels to talk about mental health, we can not only eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health, but provide guidance and support for children in need.”
You don’t need to suffer in silence.
Hurst’s story is already encouraging others:
If you need help or would like to speak to someone about suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression or any issue or mental battle you’re facing, there is someone who is available to talk. Whether that be a loved one, a trusted friend, a family member, a counselor–share how you’re feeling with someone.
You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. It’s a “free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones”.
If you’d like to support or would like to learn more about the Hayden Hurst Family Foundation, you can do so here.
Charlie Lapastora is a sports/news multimedia journalist who’s reported, written, produced, anchored, shot video/edited on different NBC, ABC, and FOX shows in multiple TV markets, along with digital & new media companies. Charlie has traveled the country telling national sports, news, feature, and original stories on a cable news network, airing on top 10 TV markets, satellite radio, and digital platforms. He is passionate about his faith, family—being a husband to whom he calls the G.O.A.T. of women—about reppin’ his home state of Michigan and Detroit teams (yes, including the Lions), good coffee, and loves how sports brings people together. He’s traveled the world leading and coaching sports camps and has also worked at the Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers’ NBA teams.
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