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Midland Park

Academic Pressure Led To Track Star's Suicide

01/21/2014 09:00AM ● By Rebecca K. Abma

A beautiful young college freshman with a seemingly bright future ahead of her took her life Friday night, apparently due to college stress. Madison Holleran, a 2013 graduate of Northern Highlands Regional High School and outstanding track star, jumped to her death in Center City, Philadelphia. She was 19.

A funeral Mass is planned for noon Tuesday, at Guardian Angel Church, 320 Franklin Turnpike, Allendale. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Madison’s honor to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

According to news reports, the University of Pennsylvania freshman went from being a confident and happy teen in high school to a worried and stress young woman in the span of a few months.

“There was a lot more pressure in the classroom at Penn. She wasn’t normal happy Madison,” her father, James, told the New York Post. University of Pennsylvania ranked second in Newsweek’s 2012 list of Most Stressful Colleges. “My daughter’s stress was self induced, and although we had started her in therapy to address her issues, she hid the severity of those issues from everyone."

Just hours before her death, there were no warning signs of what was about to come, her father said. She reportedly left letters and gifts behind for her family. 

“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,” her father said.

A family friend told the Daily News that Madison put high expectations on herself; the 3.5 GPA she achieved in her first semester was not acceptable in her mind.

The family said they do not blame the school for her suicide, but wanted to tell her story so that other families could learn from it and use it to help others.

According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics from 2010, someone in America dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes. Northern Highlands school officials are providing bereavement counseling for students. Help is also available help is available through West Bergen Mental Health, 201-934-1160.  

In case of an emergency call, 201-262-HELP (4357), 9-1-1, or go to your nearest emergency room. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline can also be of service by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

Madison's athletic achievements are detailed in this excellent tribute in the Record.  

Read on for the original article as published in Cliffview Pilot: 

Northern Highlands track standout, 19, from Allendale dies at school in Philadelphia (via Cliffview Pilot)

TRIBUTE: An accomplished 19-year-old former Northern Highlands Regional High School track star from Allendale died yesterday in Center City, Philadelphia. Madison Holleran, who already was excelling at Penn University in the middle of her first year…

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