Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinksi was found dead in Pullman, Washington Tuesday afternoon from an apparent suicide, according to local authorities.
Officers were called to Tyler's apartment to do a welfare check after Hilinski failed to show up for practice earlier in the day. When officers arrived, they found the 21-year-old dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Police said a rifle was recovered next to him along with a suicide note. According to affiliate KOMO, Pullman Police and the Whitman County Coroner's Office are still investigating.
Hilinski was a red shirt sophomore and was most recently the starting quarterback in the Cougars' loss to Michigan State in the Holiday Bowl, after senior Luke Falk was unable to play due to a wrist injury.
Hilinski appeared in eight games, throwing for 1,176 yards and seven touchdowns, and was the presumptive starting quarterback going into next season.
His most memorable outing came in the second week of this season when he led Washington State from a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Boise State 47-44 in triple overtime. Hilinski threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns coming off the bench, and was carried off the field after the victory.
Hilinski was from Claremont, California, and went to high school at nearby Upland. He arrived on campus in 2015 and red-shirted before appearing in four games in 2016.
Tyler's brother, Ryan Hilinski, posted to Twitter: "Please keep my family in your prayers tonight."
Condolences for the Hilinski family came pouring in from the WSU Cougar Nation and all over the sports community. WSU President Kirk Shultz tweeted: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hilinski family."
WSU Football released a statement from Head Coach Mike Leach via Twitter that read, “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."
“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” - Coach Leach regarding Tyler Hilinski— WSU Cougar Football (@wsucougfb) January 17, 2018
Another statement from WSU Interim Director of Athletics John Johnson said, the team was brought together and informed of Hilinski's death. Grief counselors were also on hand. "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," the statement said.
Teammate defensive back Skyler Thomas, tweeted: "You brought smiles to the people around you. I am sorry I could not be there for you when you needed a smile yourself."
Ty you were a great teammate, friend, brother anything we needed you to be. You brought smiles to the people around you. I am sorry I could not be there for you when you needed a smile for yourself. Love you man. Rest In Peace🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/LmNC1ZLNZi— Skyler Thomas (@Sky_Dolla_Sign) January 17, 2018
Seeing what happen to Tyler Hilinski last night really hit home. I’ve had family and friends end their lives, and suicide is never the answer. Don’t ever feel like you are alone in this fight! We are all here to help.— Bryan Harper (@BryanHarper45) January 17, 2018
1-800-273-TALK (8255)#SuicidePrevention #RIPTylerHilinski
We spoke with Katrina King, a mental health therapist who has worked with patients between the ages of 5 to 25, who said that the perception of young people who 'have it all' and are essentially untouchable but unfortunately mental illness doesn't discriminate regardless of age, sex, or status.
"A person who's suicidal is in a really dark and lonely place, mentally, emotionally.-- To think that in your state of mind-- that is your only solution to your problem would be to take your own life is really sad and there's more to it than people realize. It's not just an impulsive thought that people have that they act on," King explained.
She went to say, that she encourages people who see warning signs such as withdrawing from family and friends, obvious changes in behavior in someone they care about; to reach out, ask them about it, be persistent and encourage them to get help. "Sometimes all it takes is touching base with someone." King said.
For you or anyone you know is struggling there is help available, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Affiliate KOMO and Associated Press contributed to this report.