Recent death prompts mental health discussion
Students report mixed reactions to media coverage of College freshman Madison Holleran's suicide
January 21, 2014, 6:17 pm · Updated January 21, 2014, 10:14 pm·
Recent events have sparked discussions on issues of stress and mental health on campus, with many students expressing frustration at the lack of dialogue surrounding mental health.
The father of College freshman Madison Holleran, who committed suicide last Friday, said her suicidal thoughts were linked to the challenges Holleran faced at Penn, according to the New York Post. He told the Post on Monday that the “pressure in the classroom at Penn” led to “worries and stress.”
However, he also said that he did not blame the University for her death.
Some students recognized a prejudice against mental health issues and the difficulties of seeking help for depression.
“CAPS just seems so distant,” College sophomore Arame Niang said. “You know about it, but you don’t want to go there. People look both ways before going in.”
However, Amanda Hallock, a College sophomore, thinks the stigma surrounding mental health goes beyond Penn.
“I don’t think that it’s the school’s fault,” she said, citing the “lack of mental health conversation” in the United States. “I think there’s a big belief that it’s all in your head,” she said. ”[There is] victim-blaming on the person who has depression.”
Many people shared the story on social media. A blog post on Tumblr suggested that people run in memory of Holleran, who was a member of Penn’s varsity track and field team, and in support of people suffering from depression. Many people tweeted with the hashtag #MilesforMadison. The Tumblr post was removed later on Tuesday.
A Facebook page called “Run With Madison Holleran” garnered over 2,200 “likes” as of Tuesday night. A campaign on the charitable fundraising site Crowdrise had raised over $2,300 for suicide prevention as of Tuesday night.
The story of Holleran’s death was picked up by the New York Daily News, Buzzfeed, Time.com and the International Business Times, among other news organizations. Some students were uncomfortable with the perceived sensationalist coverage of Holleran’s death, including in The Daily Pennsylvanian.
“The way it was handled in the DP … I’m unhappy,” Harrison Glicklich, a College sophomore, said. He suggested that the mentions of sorority recruitment, among other issues, trivialized her death.
Although Prisca Alilio, a College sophomore, also questioned the intent of the media coverage, but “at the same time, I like that its getting coverage, so now you have people in the [Penn] administration who are actually going to be forced to discuss mental health issues,” she said.
However, others were unsure of what changes could be made and skeptical that any action would be taken.
“I think there’s a lot of things Penn could do,” Hallock said. “It’s more about what Penn’s willing to do.”