Obituaries

Drew Bledsoe says Washington State QB, who died in apparent suicide, was ‘a great friend and mentor to my son’

Items were left at a makeshift memorial for Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski outside Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash., Wednesday.
Geoff Crimmins/The Moscow-Pullman Daily News via Associated Press
Items were left at a makeshift memorial for Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski outside Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash., Wednesday.

Former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe urged young men struggling with mental illness to seek help in the wake of the apparent suicide of Tyler Hilinski, the 21-year-old quarterback at his alma mater, Washington State.

“Reaching out for help when we need it is NOT a sign of weakness,” he wrote Wednesday on Instagram. “Trusting your friends and asking for help is the ultimate sign of STRENGTH!!”

Hilinski, a teammate of Bledsoe’s son, John, who also plays QB for the Cougars, died from an apparent gunshot wound.

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“As men, we have to learn to TALK about how we are feeling,” wrote Bledsoe, the Pats’ signal caller from 1993 to 2001, when he suffered an injury and was replaced by Tom Brady.

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Comparing depression to physical ailments, Bledsoe encouraged men facing mental illness to seek help.

“If we sprain an ankle we go see a doctor. If we’re struggling emotionally we have to learn to treat it the same way,” he wrote. “It’s our obligation to the people we love and the people who love us.”

Bledsoe said he didn’t know Hilinski well, but the football player was a “great friend and mentor” to his son.

“That’s all a dad can ask for,” he said.

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Hilinski, 21, was found in his apartment Tuesday after he didn’t show up for practice. Police in Pullman, Wash., said a rifle and a suicide note were both found next to him.

Hilinski was from Claremont, Calif., and he was expected to be the starting quarterback for Washington State next season.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.