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

Sep 4, 2011, 11:46 PM EDT

Colin Wilson, David Legwand, Shea Weber AP

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.

  1. polegojim - Sep 5, 2011 at 12:44 AM

    Well said and done Tie. Every expressed message like that can save a life.

  2. icelovinbrotha215 - Sep 5, 2011 at 1:03 AM

    The question is what is triggering the depression. We can’t continue having these men dying at a premature age. I hope Tie and other former enforcers shed some light on this dark and mysterious subject.

  3. polegojim - Sep 5, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Ice – that’s the tough part – depression of the degree that leads to suicidal thoughts/tendencies doesn’t need a ‘trigger’. I’m sure head shots, etc can make it worse, but it’s really an illness similar to allergies or asthma, etc. It’s an inherent chemical make up, and typically seen along a longer line of hereditary analysis. Depression can also be masked by drugs (prescription or other), heavy alcohol use/abuse, where alcohol abuse is actually a symptom, but treated as the ‘illness’. Anything to take the pain away and get away from the looming feelings of fog, negativity, hopelessness – for which no real reason can be pinpointed.

    It’s been estimated that between 8%-10% of all adults in US suffer from clinical depression of varying degree’s of seriousness. Since there are about 700 NHL players per year, % are that at least 70 of them are suffering from depression – some very serious. In the most serious cases where suicide is considered or attempted, it has nothing…nothing…nothing to do with money, success, family. It’s an internal emotional pain that seems insurmountable.

    That’s why it’s so important to get treatment, just as with any other illness. It just doesn’t ‘go away’, but can be managed…but only if discussed.

  4. stephanemcsween - Sep 6, 2011 at 11:20 PM

    Mental illness no one sees it. diagnosis are hard. I was fine until 4 years ago. We were a loving family. bought a house successful business and suddenly i did not fell so good. I had hard time getting things accomplished. I did not know what was going on but I knew something was wrong. By the time I finally got what was happening everything was gone. I had destroyed it all unwillingly. But for the grace of god my family came back. Today I live one day at a time it is all I can do.
    There are good days and there is bad days. I’m learning how to live with the disease, it takes its toll on my family and me. I am very lucky to have them. I probably would not be here if it were not for them.

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