Hilinski Family tragedy leads to mental health awareness

CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) – Years later the Hilinski’s are turning the pain into life changing advice.

“I look at them and I see Tyler.” Kym Hilinski said. “It hurts just as much today as it did in 2018. To change and possibly save someone’s life means there’s really no word to describe what that means to us.”

In January 2018, Tyler Hilinski, a quarterback at Washington State, tragically took his own life. His parents, Mark and Kym, decided to share their story.

“There’s so many Tyler’s out there that are suffering in silence.” Mark Hilinski, Tyler Hilinski’s father, said. “It’s important to tell the story, to give them a chance to articulate in their own minds what it is they’re thinking about, and if they need help to ask for it.”

The two started Hilinski’s Hope, a non-profit that spreads mental health awareness, education and resources for student-athletes.

“After every one of our Tyler Talks, we get a hug from every single student athlete that’s in the room that has listened to Tyler’s story and our journey,” Kym Hilinski said. “We try to let them know that yes, they are a student athlete. yes They play sport, but they’re so much more than their sport. And we emphasize that they need to take care of their mental health.”

The pair brought their powerful testimony to Clemson, speaking with the football and basketball teams.

“This is our lives now. We can’t change the story,” Mark Hilinski said. “We can only use it to help other people. And I think if it can happen to Tyler can happen to anybody and we don’t do that to scare anyone. It’s simply a good reason to pay attention.”

If just one life was changed, the Hilinski’s feel they’ve honored their son’s legacy.

“When we do these talks, I get to say his name over and over again. I get to tell these students athletes, how wonderful my son was,” Kym Hilinski said. “Yes, he’s not here with me physically anymore, but I can feel his presence at all of our Tyler Talks, I know he’s here guiding us and helping us and in a sweet little voice. He’d say, ‘Hey mama, you got this.’ And it means more to me than I can really tell you in words. I’m so thankful I get to do it.”

If you know a student-athlete that is dealing with mental health problems and needs help, visit the Hilinski’s Hope website here.

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