Madison Holleran, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, was a popular track star who was academically among the top of her class. Last year, on January 17, 2014, Madison shocked the UPenn community and those close to her when she committed suicide by jumping off a parking garage.
Her parents released her suicide note on January 22, 2015. In it, Maddy, as she was called by her friends and family, explained, "I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out, and I thought how it is worse perhaps to be locked in." In the letter, she also left gifts for her family; she gave her mother necklaces, her grandparents GingerSnap cookies, a friend The Happiness Project, and her father, chocolate. In an earlier draft of her suicide note that was found in her dorm room, Maddy wrote, “I don’t know who I am anymore. trying. trying. trying…I’m sorry. I love you…sorry again…sorry again…sorry again…How did this happen?” Just an hour before her death, Madison posted a picture of lights at Rittenhouse Square.
Madison’s father said that she was having a hard time adjusting to UPenn's high academic standards, but she was successful in meeting those demands both socially and athletically. Stacy Holleran, Madison’s mother, said that she was shocked when Madison originally came to her in December of 2013, articulating her thoughts about self harm and her depression. Mrs. Holleran immediately set her up with a mental health professional and over her holiday break, Madison appeared to recover slightly. Only a few weeks after the break was over, though, Madison experienced a rapid deterioration.
The Hollerans have experienced a rush of support from those who knew Madison and those who were touched by her story. They have created The Madison Holleran Foundation to assist high school seniors and college freshmen experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts as well as established a scholarship at her high school in her name.
Her parents released the suicide note this month to raise awareness of depression and to prevent further tragedies like Maddy’s suicide from taking place again.
Depression, self harm, and suicidal thoughts can affect anyone. It doesn’t matter how high your GPA is, what school you go to, your socioeconomic class, your race, or how involved you are socially or co-curricularly. If you’re experiencing depressive thoughts, reach out to someone—your resident advisor, family, friends, a spiritual leader, the counseling center at your school, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.