Popular 19-Year-Old UPenn Track Star Dies In An Apparent Suicide

Madison Holleran posted a picture of Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square on Instagram an hour before police say she jumped off a parking garage.

1. Madison Holleran, a popular 19-year-old track star at UPenn, posted this picture of Philadelphia’s famous Rittenhouse Square on Instagram, an hour before police say she jumped to her death from a parking garage on Friday, Jan. 17.

2. UPDATE —Jan. 20, 2014, 5:00 p.m. ET:

Holleran’s father, James Holleran, told the New York Post that his daughter “felt a lot more pressure” at the Ivy League school.

The Post reported that Holleran had shared her suicidal thoughts with her parents in December 2012 and had started seeing a therapist.

James told the Post:

“We knew she needed help. She knew she needed help. She had lost confidence in academics and she also lost confidence in her track abilities.”

According to the story, Madison left her parents a note along with gifts for the family at the parking garage where she jumped to her death.

3. Holleran jumped off a parking garage in downtown Philadelphia and was pronounced dead at the scene around 7 p.m. on Friday, according to police. No one else was injured. Police did not indicate the reason for her apparent suicide.

4. The death of the popular varsity track star from Allendale, N.J., has shocked the the UPenn community. Holleran was in her freshman year and was a member of the university’s cross-country and track teams.

5. After news of Holleran’s death, members of UPenn’s track and field teams were given a choice not to compete in the all-day meets on Saturday. A sorority recruitment event was also postponed out of respect to Holleran.

6. Reactions of shock and grief poured in from Holleran’s teammates, friends, and strangers. Her Twitter bio read: “The more you laugh, the longer you live.”

Hearts may be heavy&bodies weak but together we find strength. We will always love&miss the talented, gentle, sweethearted Madison Holleran.

— Penn Track&Field/XC (@PennTrack)

I feel horrible for everyone in school at northern highlands right now. Shoutout to all of you and RIP to Madison holleran, what a star

— Josh Chazin (@blazin_chazin28)

The @penn community lost a shinning star yesterday. Prayers and condolences to Madison's family, friends & teammates http://t.co/8Ow4sma3ry

— Mark Fabish (@Coach_Fab)

In a statement, UPenn president Amy Gutmann said:

“The entire Penn community is deeply saddened by the death of Madison Holleran.

She was bright and well-liked with an incredible future ahead of her. There are simply no words that can properly convey the sense of heartache that we all feel at such a tragic loss.”

UPenn’s Director of Track & Field/Cross Country said in a statement:

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our teammate and friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. This is a challenging time for everyone involved with the program, but we will support each other in the weeks to come and help her teammates and friends find their own ways to honor her memory. We will always carry her in our hearts.”

15. In a blog post, “Memories of Madison,” on NorthJersey.com, writer Paul Schwartz wrote a heartfelt tribute to Holleran and her achievements.

The fact that I’ll never see Madison Holleran again. The fact that I’ll never watch her powerful strides as she ate up sections of the track like a magnificent thoroughbred, finishing with a flourish (and a grimace) but moments later giving a dazzling smile and a look of disbelief (like after she heard her winning time of 2:08.87 after winning the State Meet of Champions 800 last spring).”

Why a smart, beautiful, lively, athletic young woman with her whole life ahead of her should choose to end it in a moment despite having family, friends, coaches, teammates, rivals and total strangers dazzled by the perfect life she seemed to have. The reaction to her death was overwhelming, both in and out of the close-knit track and field community.”

16. Many who knew Holleran posted touching messages on her last Instagram picture.

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Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.
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