by AMBER KELLY Photographer
Nineteen-year-old college student Madison Holleran was a freshman track star at the University of Pennsylvania who grew up in a happy family in Allendale, New Jersey. In high school, she was described as “intelligent” and “popular,” but on Friday, January 17, this well-loved girl committed suicide by throwing herself off the top of a parking garage.
Preceding her suicide, Holleran had left notes and gifts for her family, which they found after her death but have not elaborated on to the press. Exactly one hour before her suicide, Holleran had also posted a picture of Rittenhouse Square at sunset on her Instagram. It was here, at Rittenhouse Square, where she bought the gifts for her family.
According to her father, Jim Holleran, his daughter had become increasingly depressed after attending the University of Pennsylvania. So depressed, in fact, that she had begun seeing a therapist to deal with her feelings and the pressure she felt at school. Apparently, high school had been relatively easy for her academically, but when she enrolled at the Ivy League school, the academics became more difficult.
At UPenn, Holleran had earned a 3.5 GPA, which, as a letter grade, is considered an A. Jim Holleran claimed his daughter was not happy at the college, and he supported her if she decided to transfer to another school. Unfortunately, it seems that the stress to excel became too much for Holleran.
Her father had contacted her on Friday before she committed suicide. She had told him she would make an emergency appointment with a therapist, something she apparently never did.
“It’s so sad that this girl committed suicide, and as of now it seems like she made this decision because of the pressure she felt at UPenn. It’s ridiculous that the work at this college made her so depressed. If only she had transferred in time, maybe this could’ve been avoided,” says senior Jennifer Park.
On Tuesday, January 21, 600 people attended a vigil in Allendale, New Jersey to remember and mourn Holleran.
Holleran’s suicide is not the first of its kind, as many college students have similarly committed suicide. According to a Dr. George Krudk, one out of every four college students suffers from a form of mental illness, including depression. Other doctors claim that suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students.
It is estimated that 1,088 college students commit suicide every year, and many experts say that a large portion of college students suffering from depression do not get the treatment they need. It has also been said that male college students are more likely to commit suicide than female students.
“Those are scary statistics. I don’t know how you stop college suicides because if students have depression but don’t look for help, how can they be helped? I know that sometimes there aren’t always signs. I just hope that we can find a way to decrease the number of college suicides because I know that the number of these suicides has increased over time,” says senior Stephanie Pasewaldt.
College suicides have increased drastically over the last couple of decades, but no one really knows how to stop it. Hopefully in the future, a way to avoid these suicides will be found.
How do you feel about the increase in college related suicides?