In Memory Of Madison Holleran: The Message We Can Take From Her Tragic, Untimely Death

by Zach Hynoski

On January 17, 2014, a gorgeous University of Pennsylvania freshman committed suicide by jumping from the top of a Philadelphia parking garage.

Madison Holleran, a 19-year-old New Jersey track star, who also ran at the school, suffered from self-induced stress. Madison started seeing a therapist after sharing suicidal thoughts with her parents over her winter break. “We knew she needed help, she knew she needed help,” her father, James Holleran, said.

“Although we had started her in therapy to address her issues, she hid the severity of those issues from everyone. She had lost confidence in academics and she also lost confidence in her track abilities.”

As Madison and her father drove back to Philadelphia for her second semester, she told her father that she didn’t want to return and he suggested she consider transferring schools. James does not blame the prestigious school for his daughter’s suicide, but wants to share her story as a cautionary measure for others.

I first heard the tragic news from my best friend, one of Madison’s teammates. When I read about what happened, I couldn’t help but wish I could have told her that everything would be okay.

We’ve all been stressed out. Whether it’s school, work, extra-curricular activities, personal responsibilities or any combination of the above, we’ve all had our moments. Often, it’s not a single obstacle that causes us to stress, but many smaller ones.

Next time you’re stressing, pause, close your eyes and take a breath. Think about everything for which you can be grateful and all of the people who love you. Rather than clogging your mind with negativity and thoughts of work, or grades or inadequacy, think of all your great blessings.

Stop focusing on what’s not going well and acknowledge everything that is.

Even when you feel like the entire world has walked out on you, please know you’re never alone. If you’re feeling upset, stressed or depressed, talk to someone.

Talk to your parents, and if you don’t have that kind of relationship with your parents, talk to your friends or find a therapist. You’ll be surprised by how much people will empathize with and validate your thoughts.

Every person has problems — there is no doubt about that — but you don’t have to face them alone.

You can donate to Madison's personal campaign here.

Photo via Facebook