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Community Post: Why Madison Holleran’s Story Matters

I just did a quick google search for “Madison.” The second option on the preset search list was “Madison Holleran”. This isn’t shocking, considering Madison’s story has become huge over the past few days.

This is Madison Holleran

Madison was a University of Pennsylvania freshman who died last Friday, after jumping to her death from a parking garage in Philadelphia. Via google images

This morning, in my Journalism class at Temple University, we talked about Madison’s story. The professor, a very scholarly and experienced man in the area of journalism, inquired to us why Madison’s story was being reported on so much, even in newspapers across the world. The answer most people gave was because she was “beautiful”. Of course, it’s true. She was a gorgeous girl. I’m her age, I’m allowed to say that. She was also a huge star on the UPenn track team, even though she was only a freshman. But is that really why the story is popular? I think it would be really ignorant of the media to JUST think the story is important because the girl was pretty and played sports.

My professor mentioned that in most suicide cases, the media leaves the family alone and doesn’t report much on the story. In fact, there have been cases at my own school in which people have taken their lives. They didn’t gain much attention. So why is this story about a freshman at UPenn so important? The truth is, I don’t know. But I do have an idea.

I think Madison’s story could be a wake-up call. I highly respect students that attend Ivy League universities, and the universities themselves. I have been to the University of Pennsylvania many times. I have attended their commencement, and I have seen the complete joy that comes over the students as they graduate from the incredible institution. Madison’s story, unfortunately, is probably not unique. If you have not read the many news articles about her suicide, her death is attributed to the fact that she was stressed out about school. In the past, she had never been depressed or worried about school as much as she was at UPenn. Some articles describe her as a “perfectionist”. I can see how that would be hard at such a high-level school.

Madison’s father, who has been very cooperative and outspoken with the media since his daughter’s death, said there were no warning signs until December. She had expressed feelings of suicidal thoughts, and her father suggested that she see a therapist. She complied, but either she had not been in therapy long enough, or it wasn’t working.

Madison’s suicide can be a wake up call or example for a lot of college kids, parents, teachers, friends, etc. There aren’t always warning signs, but people need to be aware of the rigors that come with attending an undergraduate institution. I have definitely felt stressed and overwhelmed at school. No matter what school someone attends, there is always work to be done. Often, it can be too much. Individuals just have to know when too much work has an effect on their entire lives.

When I first read Madison’s story, I initially felt sad for her and her family. However as I read more about her, I connected to her a lot more. She was my age. I could have been friends with her. I have been stressed out at school many times. I have seen my friends become overloaded with school work. I have seen people’s tempers change because of the amount of stress pressing on their brains. Madison decided to take the next step, but the point is that we never know when and with whom that next step will happen.

That’s why I’m advising everyone to pay attention to this story, to see it as motivation to make sure you keep an eye out for your friends and family members. Make sure they are as comfortable as they can be. School is hard, and it can be extremely overwhelming. If you yourself feel overly stressed or depressed about school, perhaps it’s time to take your mental health into account, and ask for the help you need.

The reason Madison’s story is important isn’t because she was a beautiful track star who had an amazing future ahead of her, although that is part of it. It’s important because what happened to her could happen to any one of us. Everyone saw Madison as a “normal” teenage girl. In reality, everyone is normal. We are all Madison Holleran. Every one of us has a right to ask for help when we need it. Going to therapy does not mean there is something wrong with you. Everyone has their own problems, even if they are very small. Take care of yourself. If we don’t look out for ourselves and our friends, it could end in no future at all.

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