Alex McLaughlin basketball tournament targets mental health

A Nova Scotia basketball player who died earlier this year is the focus of a tournament to help support athletes who may be struggling.

Acadia Axemen player struggled after losing time on the court

Liz McLaughlin says son Alex had a hard time dealing with his lack of playing time. (CBC)

A Nova Scotia basketball player who died earlier this year is the focus of a tournament to help support athletes who may be struggling.

Alex McLaughlin played at Acadia University. The 23-year-old took his own life four months ago.

The Alex McLaughlin Memorial Tournament is underway this weekend in Halifax, with 16 men's and women's teams competing.

Mark McLaughlin is wearing his brother's number.

"We just kind of thought it would be a good time to bring everybody back, near the end of the summer, and just honour him with a basketball tournament — just knowing how much he loved to participate in tournaments like this," Mark McLaughlin said.

Alex McLaughlin was a star player from Dartmouth. While at Acadia, his playing time diminished and he eventually left the team, his mother said.

"His role on the team had diminished to such a point that it wasn't worthwhile for him anymore, and I don't think he ever truly recovered from that loss," said Liz McLaughlin.

The family wants to help other athletes who find themselves in stressful situations.

The tournament is raising money for Communities Addressing Suicide Together, known as CAST.

"We're kind of hoping to help them develop a coalition of community experts to try and raise awareness with coaches, families and players — young athletes in general," said Leah Sutherland, with CAST.

The tournament runs all weekend at the University of King's College.