Organizations and apps offer mental health support
SPOKANE, Wash. — Days after the tragic death a Washington State University football player, mental health advocates and specialists are once again emphasizing the importance of properly handling brain health.
WSU quarterback Tyler Hilinski died by suicide this week. His loss has sparked a new discussion centered around student-athlete health. Justin McKenzie, co-founder of non-profit Hope Happens Here, said being a student athlete comes with unique challenges.
“Mental health issues, to most people, are a sign of weakness, so if you’re a teammate in the locker room, you don’t want to open up to your other teammates,” McKenzie said.
He went on to explain that many athletes who may be depressed don’t want to seem like a liability to the team by sharing their mental condition. He’s hoping to change that through Hope Happens Here, which he and Dan Divis started after losing a friend to suicide who was a college athlete.
“It’s kind of eliminating that jock culture, that kind of stigma around it that you can’t open up or express yourself to your teammate because you need to be reliable, you need to be mentally tough, physically tough,” McKenzie said.
But, help is out there. Sabrina Votava, Spokane suicide prevention specialist and Failsafe for Life board president, said everyone can do something to help a loved on in crisis.
“I know that everyone says that if you are struggling, to reach out for help, and I think that’s vital. I would also say if you know someone who is struggling, it’s even more critical for you to reach out to them because a lot of times, when someone is in that crisis so deeply, they don’t understand how bad things really are,” Votava said.
Both Votava and McKenzie emphasized the importance of knowing what resources are available, both locally and nationally, and using them.
There are hotlines you can call, or text, and apps you can download.
“There is always someone out there and when you’re at your lowest of lows, it doesn’t seem like that, but there will always be someone,” McKenzie said.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
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