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Hayden Hurst thanks Dak Prescott for public stance on mental health

Jason Owens
·3-min read

Dak Prescott spoke candidly recently about his bouts with depression.

The Dallas Cowboys quarterback revealed earlier this month his mental health challenges in a discussion about the death of his brother, Jace, who died of suicide in March. Prescott said that even prior to his brother’s death that the COVID-19 pandemic had taken a mental toll, and he encouraged others to open up to loved ones about mental health struggles.

Hayden Hurst shares thanks with Dak Prescott

For this, Hayden Hurst is appreciative. The Atlanta Falcons tight end found Prescott after Sunday’s dramatic Dallas victory not to make a comment about the game — but to thank Prescott for his public stance.

The Falcons released video of the interaction on Tuesday.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for what you did, came out and talked about,” Hurst told Prescott after grabbing his attention. “Me and my mom have a foundation about suicide prevention. Respect the hell out of you for talking about it.”

Prescott offered “to collab one day” in response.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott talks to the media following practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Oxnard, Calif., Saturday, July 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)
Dak Prescott has advocated for ending the stigma around mental health struggles. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

Hurst’s struggles with anxiety, depression

Hurst, a third-year NFL tight end, revealed in February that he attempted suicide in 2016.

“I woke up in the hospital,” Hurst told First Coast News on Feb 17. “I didn’t know what happened. I had to have a friend fill me in. Apparently, I had been drinking and went into my apartment and cut my wrist. My friend found me in a puddle of blood. He called 911.”

Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst (81) celebrates after catching a pass for a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Hayden Hurst is in his first year with the Falcons after two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Before joining the NFL, Hurst played baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. He said that he experienced bouts of anxiety and depression that played out in isolation and heavy drinking. His struggles carried on to his time playing college football for South Carolina and ultimately led to his suicide attempt.

“There were weeks at a time I would sit in a dark room and not want to be around people,” he said. “Just that fear of embarrassment. I had never experienced anything like that.”

Hurst had an uncle and a cousin who died of suicide in 2008 and 2010.

Hurst, Prescott want to end stigma

In talking about Jace’s death, Prescott said that his brother also kept to himself about his mental struggles and didn’t share his feelings about taking care of their sick mother, who died of cancer in 2013.

“You can’t even put into words the burden,” Prescott told Graham Bensinger. “It’s something only Jace knew. And he didn’t necessarily share that. Jace never was really much of a talker.

“When something like that was a huge burden on him, he didn’t know how to share it — didn’t know how to be vulnerable about it.”

Prescott and Hurst both encourage those struggling with mental health problems to seek help and advocate for ending the stigma around the subject.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) at all hours if you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness or thoughts of suicide.

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