#LIFESaver Families Profile: Tyler Scott Haun Hilinski
What is your loved one’s full name:
Tyler Scott Haun Hilinski
What was their date of birth & their age at the time of their passing?
May 26, 1994; 21 years-old
Tell us about your loved one: What five adjectives best describe the positive they brought to this world, that now shines on in how they impacted you and all those they touched?
Loved and was loved my so, so many
To the extent that you feel comfortable, please tell us what you believe were the circumstances/contributing factors around your loved one’s passing.
We had no idea! Tyler never showed any signs of struggling with his mental health and never reached out for help. Everything in his life was wonderful. He was a QB for a Div 1 university, loved his sport, his teammates, coaches, family, friends and one day he was gone. The story is very, very long but after he passed we found out that he hid his cell phone and had changed the password – just a few days before he passed. 6 months after he died, his phone was found and we sent it to Celebrite, a digital forensic company that only works with the FBI, etc. They were able to figure out the password (the numbers spelled out “sorry’) Once we got into his phone we had a forensic attorney go through it and look for “bread crumbs,” and there weren’t any. He never looked up suicide, or why am I feeling this way. What he did look up was “how to load an AR-15 and take your life without hurting anyone else.” We struggle everyday with that query, as his mind didn’t want to injure anyone else but he wasn’t able to process that he shouldn’t kill himself, that there was help, all he had to do was tell us, and he couldn’t. We will share that he did have a brain autopsy which revealed he had Stage 1 CTE.
What did you as a family wish you knew more about this topic in the year’s leading up to your loss?
The mental health struggles of high level student-athletes.
Why did your family decide to go public about your loss, and why are you choosing to be so selfless in putting their/your story out there for others?
We didn’t want to lose another “Tyler” or have a family struggle with grief and utter sadness the way we have. We thought, if this sweet, handsome kid, who was loved and doted on struggled in silence (or maybe didn’t even know how much he was struggling to even ask for help), how many others are out there suffering and afraid to/don’t know to reach out. The shame and lack of education that comes along with reaching out and asking for help runs very strong for athletes because from a very young age they are taught how to grind through tough games and practices. Asking for help could be seen as a weakness. But we all know it isn’t – it takes strength to ask for help and share your struggles. The more we educate and talk openly, the more lives we will save.
What are the perceptions about suicide you would like your loved one’s story to help change?
Our message to all athletes (and others) we meet with:
“You don’t need a tragedy to reach out for help”
Links and/or descriptions to any resources you would like to drive people to: