There’s help: Stanford soccer star’s suicide has local schools sharing what they do to help their athletes with mental health

SPOKANE, Wash. – Stanford University and students who play sports from all over are mourning the loss of 22-year-old Katie Meyer. She was a superstar soccer player and goalkeeper at Stanford University. Her parents said on Friday she died by suicide.

Her passing sheds light on the mental health struggles college students who play sports go through. It’s one many could silently go through.

It’s an issue one former Washington State University family, unfortunately, knows all too well.

Former WSU football quarterback Tyler Hilisnki died by suicide in 2018. After his death, his parents Kym and Mark created Hilinski’s Hope, trying to help de-stigmatize mental health and help universities better mental health for students who play sports.

“The first thought was, ‘Not another one. How could we lose another student-athlete?'” Kym said when she heard about Meyer’s passing.

Kym and Mark haven’t personally talked to Meyer’s parents, but say they’re there for them whenever they want to talk.

“It’s a battle. We struggle every day without Tyler. I wish I could take away their pain. I wish I could bring Katie back. I’d just tell them to just love one another and be there for each other and their families. It’s tough,” Kym said.

It will be a long journey ahead for the Meyer family; one that the Hilinskis are still going through.

“We feel for Katie’s parents. We know how much their life has already changed and how much is going to continue to change, what we went through at that time, and how difficult it was then and continues to be,” Mark said.

Since Tyler’s passing, Eastern Washington University said it’s ramped up helping students with their mental health.

Lynn Hickey, EWU’s athletic director, said Mark and Kym have been to the university to talk to their students who play sports.

“People are aware of watching their teammates, knowing how to communicate to someone in supervision that, ‘Hey, there’s a problem here,'” she said.

Hickey has been working in college sports for decades and she said more and more students are reaching out for help. Even more so in the last five years, she said.

“The needs of the kids, the pressure they’re handling is – there’s just a lot more awareness of what they’re going through and a bigger cry for help than I think we probably noticed years ago,” she said.

Hickey said they will always talk to their students who may need mental health help. Especially whenever there’s news of an athlete passing

In 2019, the university entered a partnership with the JED Foundation, which helps universities better emotional well-being and mental health for students.

The university continues to talk to students about mental health and encourages them to reach out for help.

The Hilinski’s want to remind everyone, not just students, that they should reach out for help if they need it.

“We don’t have any other kids suffering in silence or making permanent decisions to temporary problems. It’s awful,” Kym said.

If you have thoughts of suicide, you are not alone. There is help. 

  • The National Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • The 24/7 regional crisis line: 1-877-266-1818
  • You can also text ‘HEAL’ to 741741 for the crisis text line

READ: A local teen hopes sharing her mental health struggle can help others ask for help