Mental Health Matters

Earlier today I read the heart wrenching story about 19 year-old Madison Holleran.   Less than four days ago, the University of Pennsylvania student committed suicide.  She wrote a note to her parents, left them gifts, and jumped to her death from a Center City parking garage.

By all accounts Madison had everything to live for.  A freshman track star, who finished her first semester with 3.5 GPA respectfully.  Mail Online quoted her parents as saying, “her sadness stemmed from the strains the student found herself under since going to college.”    Her parents suggested therapy and even offered to help her transfer to another college, but after the holiday break, she return to Philadelphia.

Madison isn’t my daughter, but the death of any child lies heavy on my heart. I teared thinking about Madison’s last moments of life.  My daughter is 24-year-old.  The thought of her living out what must be the last and most agonizing moments of her life sends chills down my spine.

In 2007, suicide  was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 34,598 deaths.


In 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24
. Of every 100,000 young people in each age group, the following number died by suicide:

  • Children ages 10 to 14 — 0.9 per 100,000
  • Adolescents ages 15 to 19 — 6.9 per 100,000
  • Young adults ages 20 to 24 — 12.7 per 100,000

 National Institute of Mental Health (NHM)

Much emphasis is placed on outer beauty and physical fitness.  We see a beautiful woman or handsome man with a great physique– They are friendly, out going, and seem to have it all.  We assess (really judge) them to be successful or make positive assumptions about them.  This is so wrong!

A warm smile could be a mask or smoke screen.  The warm smile could be an indicator of internal pain, sadness, depression, or something else. The photos of Madison hardly projects the face of depression or does it?  As my friend JH says, “Honey, all that glitters ain’t gold!”

My senior year of high school was one of the most difficult years of my life.  The death of my father and the ratchet conflict with my mother gave me stomach ulcers and bald spots.  I walked around school smiling like my life was a fairy tale.  I didn’t tell anyone, not even my closest confident.  I kept my anger, sadness, and frustration in until it slowly infected by body, but thankfully not my mind.  I was lucky, Madison was not.  How sad.

Fitness junkies like me make the time for a long or short run, an hour or more at the gym, or an hour of CrossFit.  But how many of us, including those who don’t work out, make the time to evaluate if our mental health is in a good place?

As parents, how many of us know the signs of depression and can recognize them in our own children?  Will you be honest with yourself or will you surround yourself with denial with the hopes that the situation will get better?

Suicide statistics are astounding. I encourage everyone to learn more about suicide risk factors, the signs, prevention, and how to seek help.

Every life is precious. RIP Madison Holleran

If you are in a crisis and need help right away:

Call this toll-free number, available 24 hours a day, every day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You will reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a service available to anyone. You may call for yourself or for someone you care about. All calls are confidential.

ADDITIONAL READING

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

National Institute of Mental Health

American Foundation For Suicide Prevention

Bringing Teens Into the Conversation About Suicide Prevention

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2 thoughts on “Mental Health Matters

    • Yes, there is so much–too much–pressure to be “great.” I think the focus should more about finding ones passion in life. As you know, doing what you love paves the way to greater satisfaction and fullness in life. Thanks for stopping by! You’re awesome!

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