Former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski died on January 16, 2018 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Coroner Peter Martin released a statement on the death being ruled a suicide per USA Today.
After completing the scene investigation, to include a detailed forensic examination with toxicology, in the death of Tyler Scott Haun Hilinski, age 21, of Irvine, CA, a student at Washington State University, the Coroner has determined that the decedent died on January 16, 2018, at his residence in Pullman. The cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The manner of death was suicide. The Whitman County Coroner’s office extends its condolences to family and friends.
According to the Denver Post, Hilinksi took a gun from a teammate without his knowledge.
Then came Jan. 16. The quarterback was last seen alive that morning when he dropped a teammate off on campus for class. Pullman Police said Hilinski shot himself in the head with a .223-caliber rifle that he took from a teammate without the teammate’s knowledge. Police did not release the suicide note found in Hilinski’s apartment with his body, saying state law restricts its release only to family members.
Tyler Hilinksi Suffered From CTE
According to Sports Illustrated, Hilinski’s family sent his brain to the Mayo Clinic in an attempt to find answers for his sudden death. The findings revealed Hilinski suffered from CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a condition that has been commonly found in football players. Hilinski’s brain looked like that of a much older man. Sports Illustrated detailed the findings.
Then the test results came back. That changed everything again. First, the Whitney County medical examiner called to say that Tyler’s toxicology report showed no trace of drugs or alcohol. (“That actually made it worse,” Mark says.) The Mayo Clinic’s findings arrived next. Kym read the first sentence—“After reviewing the tissue we can confirm that he had the pathology of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)”—and started to reconsider her entire search. The diagnosis was Stage I, the lowest level. But still, Tyler had been just 21, he hadn’t played that much in college and for most of his life he manned the most protected of positions. If he had CTE, anyone could. She read that depression was one symptom for Stage 1 and a doctor told her Tyler’s brain looked “like that of a much older, elderly man.”
Hilinski’s family started Hilinski’s Hope, a foundation created to raise awareness for mental health. Hilinski’s mother, Kym Hilinski, spoke with the Associated Press about the organiztion.
“We wanted to focus on how we keep Tyler’s name and memory alive and how to do good things in his name,” Kym Hilinski said per Denver Post . “We’re going to raise awareness and erase the stigma with mental health and illness and suicide.”
Hilinski’s younger brother, Ryan, has decided to continue playing football and will play for South Carolina next fall. Former Washington State teammate Luke Falk reflected on the tragic news.
“For me, it was just that I lost a friend and I lost a teammate,” Falk told USA Today. “I know that I have a platform that can reach out to a lot of people and hopefully a lot of good comes from it. Because I definitely think there needs to be a change. There needs to be less of a stigma about mental health, especially with men. I know that the family is doing a lot of things in his name and in his honor, which is awesome, because he was a heck of a guy.”