Skip to content Skip to footer

WSU quarterback’s suicide reminds us why mental health is so important in college

Suicide is currently the second most common cause of death among college students according to the American College Health Association (ACHA).

This time it took Washington State University quarterback, Tyler Hillinski, who was found dead in his apartment from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

It was after Tyler didn’t show up for practice Tuesday (Jan 16th) when officials were sent to his apartment looking for him. The 21-year-old was found next to a rifle and a suicide note when they arrived to the scene, according to ESPN.

Washington State coach Mike Leach said in a statement:

“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler’s passing. He was an incredible young man and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was better for it. The entire WSU community mourns as thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Experts estimate over 4,000 Americans between 15-24 commit suicide every year and according to an ACHA study in 2002, 1 in 12 college students has actually made a suicide plan.

College is the perfect breeding ground for all the symptoms of suicide — students are young, away from home for the first time, they’re living with strangers, far from their support systems, and working under intense pressure – especially when you’re an athlete.

Hilinski was projected to be the starting quarterback going into next season. He started Washington State’s Holiday Bowl loss to Michigan State and played a significant amount in the loss to Arizona.

Interim athletic director John Johnson said,

“The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinski is devastating to all. Tyler was a tremendous individual, great friend and teammate, and he will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.”

He continued,

“Earlier tonight, the football team was brought together and informed of the tragedy. There, they were met by campus and department counseling and psychological services, including athletics’ on-staff clinical psychologist and a licensed mental health counselor, along with WSU Athletics medical team. The university will continue to coordinate and provide ongoing counseling care for all student-athletes as long as needed.”

The suicide rate among young adults, ages 15-24, has tripled since the 1950s but that doesn’t mean those numbers have to stay that way. There is help, like that from Mental Health America, that offers services, advice, and encouragement for students just like Tyler.

The grief of a death is indescribable, one can only hope for peace for his family in this time of loss.