Former UW alum, Olympic athlete says those feeling depressed need to talk about their feelings

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SEATTLE — College life can be tough on any student, but the pressure can be multiplied for student athletes.

The recent suicide of Washington State University football player Tyler Hilinski has brought the issue of mental health to the forefront.

It shows no one is immune and depression can affect anyone.

No one knows why Hilinski decided to take his own life, but it has gotten many people to talk about suicide prevention.

Mental health experts say college life can be tough for students who are in the transitional phase of moving from adolescents to adulthood.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on when kids are leaving home for the first time,” said Dr. Sasha Waring with Swedish Behavior Health.

“It can be the intersection of biological changes where people are more likely to experience depression, bipolar disorder, and psychotic illnesses that are maybe presented for the first time,” added Waring.

Norris Frederick is a University of Washington graduate and an Olympic athlete who represented the United State in 2016.

But getting to where Frederick is today wasn’t easy.

Frederick talks about his own struggles with depression as a college student and athlete.

“I’ve definitely dealt with depression.  When I was training for the 2012 Olympics, you know, there were times when I had suicidal thoughts and I didn’t think I was strong enough to do what I was doing,” said Frederick.

He said that mental health can affect anyone at any time and it has nothing to do with your upbringing, childhood, or surroundings.

“It affects everybody. Whether you’re the richest person in the world or the poorest person in the world,” said Frederick.

He said people feeling depressed or in need of support need to talk about their feelings.

“It doesn’t make you a stronger person to internalize and then have it be the final straw. It makes you a stronger person to say something about it,” added Frederick.

College campuses offer student counseling or services to help students in need.

There’s also the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline available 24 hours a day at: 1-800-273-8255.

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