Lauren Bernett suicide calls softball world to action on mental health

Less than 24 hours before her team’s biggest series of the season began, Patty Gasso retired to a quiet room at her house and clicked open a Zoom link.

She wasn’t talking strategy with assistants or watching film of opponents.

She was serving as a panelist on mental health in athletics.

Dubbed “Coaches + Mental Health: Creating Mentally Well Spaces in College Athletics,” the webinar Wednesday evening was hosted by OU. It was moderated by folks from the psychological resources office in the athletic department.

But it was spurred by Gasso.

“I’ve been shaken,” the OU softball coach said. “I’ve been shaken, thinking, ‘What if I was the coach on the other side? What could I do for that coach? Do they need help? Are they getting help?’

“There’s just a lot of questions that I have.”

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Late James Madison catcher Lauren Bernett is pictured during the NCAA softball super regionals at Missouri on May 28, 2021.

As many have fixed on what’s been happening inside the lines at Marita Hynes Field during the Bedlam series, many in the college softball world are focusing on what’s happening in the hearts and minds of players across the country. The suicide of James Madison catcher Lauren Bernett has staggered the sport. Last season, she was part of the Dukes’ magical run to the Women’s College World Series, catching for breakout star Odicci Alexander, but this season, Bernett was having her own breakout.

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