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Washington State QB's suicide a reminder of vulnerability of college students

FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2016 file photo, Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski (3) runs onto the field with his teammates before an NCAA college football game against Idaho in Pullman, Wash. Hilinski has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The 21-year-old Hilinski was discovered in his apartment after he didn’t show up for practice Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Young Kwak, File)

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The death of Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski raises awareness for mental health services on college campuses across the nation. The standout sophomore quarterback committed suicide earlier this week.

Ian Kellems, Director of Oregon Counseling and Psychological services at Oregon State University, said there is a growing need for counseling services on campuses around the country. In the last five years at OSU, their number of clients has grown by 60 percent.

Kellems said symptoms of many mental health disorders do not set in until an individual reaches their college years.

"Depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, thought disorder -- a lot of those become more evident during those college years," Kellems said.

Kellems said college students are less likely to commit suicide than non-students, and suicide rates on college campuses have remained steady. However, like other campuses across the country, the need for mental health services has grown exponentially. Kellems said keeping up with the need is a challenge.

"That's something we struggle with on a daily basis," Kellems said.

To meet the growing need, Kellems said they are increasing staff and trying new models of treatment like group therapy.

Kellems said seeing more clients at the counseling center is a good problem to have. What is more concerning are the students that are not getting help.

"So what that means is that it’s really important for our entire community to keep track of each other. To pay attention to your sons, daughters, your friends and to see how they're doing," Kellem said.

Kellems said to watch for warning signs, including social withdrawal, changes in behavior, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, or talking about taking their own life.

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, you can call the national suicide hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255

White Bird Clinic Crisis Intervention Line
(541) 687-4000
1-800-422-7558

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