It's Too Late To Save Tyler Hilinski, But It's Not Too Late To Save Somebody Else

It's Too Late To Save Tyler Hilinski, But It's Not Too Late To Save Somebody Else

In the wake of another WSU suicide victim, we ask ourselves — when is enough, enough?
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Trigger warnings for suicide and mental health issues. Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide. Tomorrow is a new day. You are worth it. You are so much more than your scars and your sorrows and the struggles inside your mind.

As I write this, tears stream down my face, and it's hard to breathe deep enough to let these words go.

On January 16th, after the rainy morning turned into a beautiful, sunny day on the Palouse, Tyler Hilinski was found dead in his apartment in Pullman, Washington. The cause of death?

Suicide.

It seems like every single time the news dies down, another young, college student's name is flashing across the headlines. Another suicide. Another tragedy. Another death with no rhyme or reason. Another call to action.

And then it happens again.

And again.

And again.

When is enough, enough? When will the world finally open its eyes and realize far too many beautiful souls are leaving this cruel world, unable to live with the pain they carry around inside themselves day in and day out. Nobody deserves to feel that hurt and alone and empty.

I did not know Tyler, personally, but many did. He has a family, friends, a team. He was described as outgoing, a bright personality, a compassionate friend. Nobody saw it coming. Nobody would have guessed. There were no "warning signs."

That's the thing though. Suicide does not descend from the sky with lightning strikes, crashes of thunder, and rain so heavy it floods the streets. No, suicide comes without warning. It comes in the middle of the day, just when the only trace of the morning's rainstorm is the puddles scattered across campus, the sun reflecting blindingly off the glassy surfaces as students walk to class, completely unaware of the end of something beautiful.

Suicide is not this phenomenon that only happens to the few. On an average day, 100 people complete suicide attempts. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Think you don't know anyone who has attempted suicide? You're probably wrong. For every suicide, there are ten failed attempts.

Did you know that anywhere from 30%-70% of individuals who have completed suicide suffer from depression?

In high school, one of my dear friends attempted suicide. Many of my friends live with mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and major depressive disorder, to name only a few. I, myself, have depression and social anxiety.

Suicide can happen to anyone.

And that is, perhaps, the most terrifying part of it all.

There are no "real" indicators of if or when it is going to happen.

There is no "watchlist" of all those individuals who need help and who cannot get it or of those who've tried and not received the help they sorely need.

There is no one who decides who it will happen to next.

It could be anyone.

I didn't know Tyler, but there is absolutely no guarantee that the next victim of suicide on this campus will not be a familiar face I would do anything to see one last time.

We have to stop stigmatizing mental illnesses.

The societal pressures to conform to traditional roles, the standards shoved onto us from birth, the lack of empathy granted unto one another — it has to end.

Let people cry. They aren't weak, they are strong.

Encourage others to seek help. Medication and therapy are incredible, and there is nothing weak in asking for help. Seeking mental health help is the bravest thing you can do, in all honesty. It is terrifying to be so vulnerable, but oh-so-worth it.

Take a break. We all push ourselves far too hard in this world. You need to take care of yourself first sometimes.

Do not devalue your struggles. Everyone has faced adversity in one form or another — nobody's hardships are "better" or more important than another's.

It is not your fault. Your mental illness is not your fault. None of this is your fault.

When will we have had enough?

When will we finally stop and do something about suicide prevention and mental health awareness? When will we take a step back to simply look around and ask someone how they are really doing? When will we realize it is only a matter of time before we have to bury another loved one?

When will we stop and finally realize our student-athletes are kids, too? I am not putting blame on the WSU Athletic Department, that is not my intention at all. What I am saying, though, is that maybe we need to realize that though these phenomenal athletes are working to make it in the big leagues after WSU, they need to be taken care of as students and as people, first and foremost. The pressures of being a star athlete in a competitive program cannot be overlooked anymore.

When will WSU, and schools all across the country and the world, realize that mental health needs to take priority? This year, WSU made the devastating decisions to reduce the number of "free" (yet, still paid through via mandatory student fees) clinic visits to not only the general Health and Wellness Services clinic, but also to Counseling and Psychological Services. Administration, explain to me how these are the budget cuts we need to be making? As a college student, I cannot afford $155 or more each visit I need to make at the clinics. Are you telling me my health, mental or physical, is not important to you anymore?

Would better programs for student-athletes to receive mental health care and check-ins saved Tyler? Would encouraging and allowing students to utilize the services on-campus for therapy, treatment, diagnosis, and appointments with licensed practitioners have saved Tyler? Would putting on more programs and inviting more speakers to advocate for mental health and seeking help have saved Tyler?

Who knows. Anyone thing could have, and any one thing could have failed Tyler like we all have today by not putting an end to the anti-mental health stance our world has put up as a wall to shield us from the vulnerability it reveals underneath us all.

None of us, none of you, are to blame for Tyler's death. There is nothing we can do but move forward, carrying his legacy and his memory with us wherever we go.

The truth — it is too late for Tyler and for the thousands of other 18-25-year-olds who have completed suicide attempts in the last year alone.

It is not too late to save someone else.

Everybody wants to save the world, right? Here's your chance.

Rest in peace, Tyler
Cover Image Credit: Twitter | @Barstool Wazzu

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Depression Is A Balancing Act That Is And Isn't In Our Control

Managing depression can sometimes feel overwhelming.

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*Warning: Before reading any further is that this article will be talking about heavy topics such as depression and suicide.*

Depression in this day and age is a very sticky topic to talk about. Yes, we are becoming more aware and accepting of the issue, but we still have a long ways to go in terms of really know how we can be there for people in a way that's most effective and where they don't feel judged because of it.

I have dealt with depression most of my life and especially going through college. It didn't become a big thing for me till I came to college, and then having to navigate my issue of it. Whether that's talking about it friends vaguely about it, bottling it all in, going for professional help, etc. It's one of the many reasons why I'm afraid of meeting someone new, or wanting to be in a relationship, I was afraid of the judgment and feeling that if I told someone they either might not want to do anything with me, say it's too much for them, etc.

Now some of those fears, in my opinion, were unjustified in a sense that yes even though it is important for people to be there for me in my time of need, I need to be conscious of how much I share and whether they can take that piece of me I shared. It's a balancing act that is hard to manage, but it allows me for a much-needed look into myself of what actually makes me happy, what doesn't, what triggers my depression and going out of my way to make sure I don't let it take control of me.

The depression took me to places, very dark places that I'm happy to have push through, with my depression it made my thoughts go into suicidal ideation, and even hurting myself, an act that I never thought I would ever do but thankfully I had people in my life that helped me overcome that and going to talk to a professional.

Depression is a mental health issue that most everyone struggles with regardless of where they're at in life, it can come like a tidal wave, or not at all. It's an internal struggle with ourselves, and we do our best trying to get through it. I know that I'm not alone in this, and if you're reading this you're not alone either.

Don't be afraid to talk about it, but be mindful of other people and how much you can share in order for them to be able to process it, go for professional help, exercise, hang out with friends. Don't let depression fully control your life, it won't go away but if we can manage it in a way that helps us be able to keep it under control then that's a win.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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