- Associated Press - Friday, September 2, 2011

TORONTO (AP) - The mother of former NHL player Wade Belak said Friday that her son had suffered from depression prior to his death.

Belak, an enforcer who had played with five NHL teams before retiring in March, was found dead Wednesday in Toronto. He was 35.

Asked by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on Friday if her son suffered from depression, Lorraine Belak said yes.

“I think he was taking control of that,” she said in a phone interview from Nashville. “He didn’t talk about it all the time or a lot.”

“I really don’t know how to answer that. I don’t know about depression,” she added. “I really am uncomfortable talking about that because I just don’t know enough.”

A person familiar with Belak’s death told The Associated Press on Thursday that he hanged himself at a downtown luxury hotel and condo building. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the investigation were confidential.

Private services will be Sunday in Nashville.

Lorraine Belak said the cause of death would be released in the coming days.

“All I know is that it is still under investigation,” she said. “The only thing I can tell you is he did not die of natural causes.”

She said she spoke to her son on Sunday, and there was nothing out of the ordinary with his mood or with the conversation.

She said the family can’t “wrap our heads around” his sudden death.

“He was a great husband, a great father, a wonderful son and we were so proud of him,” she said tearfully.

Belak is the third NHL enforcer found dead since May.

The body of 27-year-old Rick Rypien of the Winnipeg Jets was discovered in August at his home in Alberta after a police official said a call was answered for a “sudden and non-suspicious” death. Former New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died in May at 28 due to an accidental mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone.

Belak’s death has ignited a debate about whether the players’ roles as enforcers had any connection to their deaths.

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