WSU quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead at his apartment, according to Pullman police, who say they went to check on him after he missed practice earlier that day.

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Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski has died of an apparent suicide, the Pullman Police Department confirmed in a news release Tuesday night.

According to the release, police were asked to check on Hilinski, 21, at his apartment in Pullman around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday after the quarterback did not show up for a workout earlier in the day.

Upon their arrival, officers reported they found Hilinski dead in his apartment with an “apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.”

[ WSU teammates, football community react to Hilinski’s death ]

According to the Pullman police, a rifle was recovered next to Hilinski and a suicide note was found. The contents of the note were not released.

Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said Tuesday night that it appears to be a suicide.

Hilinski was a redshirt sophomore quarterback from Claremont, Calif., who was Luke Falk’s primary backup over the last two seasons, and was the most likely candidate to earn the starting job next season.

“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler’s passing,” WSU coach Mike Leach said in a statement Tuesday night. “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.”

Warning signs of suicide

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or have concerns about someone else who may be, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You will be routed to a local crisis center where professionals can talk you through a risk assessment and provide resources in your community. The more of the signs below that a person shows, the greater the risk of suicide.
  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
Source: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

In a statement, WSU interim athletic director John Johnson said the football team met Tuesday night and were informed of Hilinski’s death in the presence of counselors, a clinical psychologist and the WSU Athletics medical team.

“The university will continue to coordinate and provide ongoing counseling care for all student-athletes as long as needed,” Johnson said in the statement, urging all WSU students who need immediate assistance to contact WSU’s 24/7 immediate crisis line.

“The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinksi is devastating to all,” Johnson said in his statement. “Tyler was a tremendous individual, great friend and teammate, and he will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.”

A makeshift memorial to Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinksi is shown near Martin Stadium on the Pullman campus Friday, January 19, 2018. (Photo by Abby Culver)
A makeshift memorial to Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinksi is shown near Martin Stadium on the Pullman campus Friday, January 19, 2018. (Photo by Abby Culver)

In 2017, Hilinski played in eight games, earning his first career start in WSU’s Holiday Bowl game against Michigan State.

Hilinski’s signature game at WSU came against Boise State last year, when he came off the bench in relief of Falk to lead the Cougars to a comeback win in triple overtime. Hilinski threw three touchdown passes that day, including the game-winning score to Jamal Morrow.

Hilinski was beloved by his teammates, many of whom took to Twitter on Tuesday night to express their shock and grief and to honor their quarterback.

“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 yourself. Love you, man. Rest in peace,” safety Skyler Thomas tweeted.

“This one hurt, man. Love you Ty dawg. Wish you were still here with us,” receiver Jamire Calvin tweeted.

Using Hilinski’s nickname, “Klink”, freshman quarterback Connor Neville tweeted, “Love you Klink, you were the best role model. Rest easy. God got you now.”

In a news release issued Tuesday night, WSU announced that it has postponed the scheduled news conference to announce its new athletic director. WSU was originally slated to introduce Patrick Chun at 11 a.m. Wednesday. A new date has not been announced.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Information, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In an emergency, dial 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately.