I’ve let this story sit a few days because I wasn’t really sure what to say, but I knew I wanted to say something. Death is never an easy thing to talk about whether it’s someone you’ve known for years, or a person on the other side of the country that you’ve never met. For some reason though, when the death is a suicide, we make it a taboo. It’s an uncomfortable topic but sweeping it under the rug like it’s nothing is the root of the problem.
News broke late Tuesday night that Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead in his apartment with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was found by teammates, with a handwritten suicide note and a rifle next to him. The Whitman County Coroner’s office has now officially ruled his untimely death as a suicide. The 21-year-old quarterback was a redshirt sophomore for the Cougars, and was slated to be the starter this upcoming season. The big question here, as it unfortunately always is, is why? What’s even more unfortunate is the fact we’ll never really know. I sincerely wish the big name sports outlets paid more attention to this. When athletes die of illness, accident, or simply just natural causes, there are tribute segments dedicated to them. Why is it when an athlete has struggled so terribly to the point where taking their own life is the outcome, there’s no television time dedicated to them? Awareness is important. If more and more athletes and people in the spotlight talk about it, who knows what can be prevented.
Suicide hits close to home for me in more ways than one, so tragedies like this need to be talked about. I don’t understand why, and I never really have, but men seemingly aren’t allowed to talk about their emotions. They’re expected to bottle them up to protect the “tough guy” persona our society has implemented. Whether you’re an average guy on the street or a big name athlete, talking is important. Suicide is the #2 killer among men ages 18-45, which is a staggering statistic considering the #1 is unintentional injuries.
Former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe, whose son was a good friend of Hilinski’s, took to Instagram the other day, and couldn’t have said it any better:
PLEASE READ!! I didn’t know Tyler well but he was a great friend and mentor to my son. That’s all a dad can ask for. As men we have to learn to TALK about how we are feeling. Suicide is the #2 killer of men between 18-45!! Reaching out for help when we need it is NOT a sign of weakness. Trusting your friends and asking for help is the ultimate sign of STRENGTH!! If we sprain an ankle we go see a doctor. If we’re struggling emotionally we have to learn to treat it the same way. It’s our obligation to the people we love and the people who love us.
It’s so sad we have to use someone’s tragedy in order to open the eyes of others, and I wish it wasn’t the case. However, if you or someone you know is struggling, seek help. Whether you’re home, away at school or anywhere in between, there are so many resources available to you. Mental health is important, guys. So is talking about it. It doesn’t take away from your strength as a man. If anything, it’ll only make you stronger.
The thoughts and prayers of everyone at WTP Sports goes out to the family, friends, and teammates of Tyler Hilinski.
Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Online chat service: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/