Atlanta Falcons TE Hayden Hurst Emotionally Details Battle with Substance Abuse, Depression

by Will Shepard

Mental health is becoming a major topic of discussion and for good reason. Preserving your personal health means a happy life. At the begging of the calendar year, Hayden Hurst told the world that he battles with depression.

It takes strength to open up about a mental health disorder. And perhaps an even stronger one to do so on the national stage.

In February 2020, Hurst told the world that he had tried to commit suicide during his time in college. Dealing with intense anxiety and depression led Hurt to problems with alcoholism and drugs. It all culminated in a suicide attempt he doesn’t remember.

After leaving the hospital, Hurst took a new-found look at life. On December 3, the Atlanta Falcons released a couple of videos of Hurst talking about mental health.

Although the videos are hard to watch, they are an important 12 minutes. A chocked up Hurst tells his story.

“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 of this opportunity.”

Hurst on Dealing With Depression

While February was the first time Hurst told the world about his suicide attempt, 2013 was the first time he said that he dealt with mental health issues. At the time, Hurst was in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

Hurst even had to quit pitching because his hand would never stop shaking. Instead, he turned to football. His football career took him first to the University of South Carolina. In 2018, he was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.

Now 27 years old and the starting tight end for the Atlanta Falcons, his platform has grown considerably. In the video posted by the Falcons, Hurst says he can’t explain depression.

“I can’t really explain it. It’s hard to unless you go through it. But depression, you feel like nobody’s there, despite my family being so close. They’re willing to do whatever, but when you’re in that headspace, and you’re in that dark spot, you feel alone.”

Hurst continues, talking about how his depression led to becoming an alcoholic.

“You feel like nobody’s there, nobody cares. So I guess for me, in those years, that’s why I turned to drinking.”

Hurst says that his suicide attempt in 2016 is, “the best and worst thing that’s ever happened in my life.”

After waking up in the hospital, Hurst decided to make a change.

“Because when I made that decision, when I was in that hospital room, kind of reflecting on everything I had done, I made a promise to myself. I was like, I’m not going to do this again.”

Twitter Supports the NFL Star

Many people have openly commended the tight end for his bravery this year to speak out. And in particular, the Sunday Night Football account thanks him for trying to break the stigma.

Football stars, fans, and anyone who has heard about this story seem to be in full support of his work.

Hurst, with the support of his family, created a foundation. The Hayden Hurst Family Foundation works to help young people deal with mental health.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.