In Honor of Madison

Sadly, there’s been no shortage of follow-ups to my last post about depression and anxiety in young people. I hesitate to share this latest, as it will leave you heartbroken. But where will we be if we don’t continue this dialogue?

Madison Holleran could easily be a St. Luke’s student. Bright, accomplished, athletic, beautiful and—seemingly—Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 3.07.19 PMvery happy. She had an adoring family and what appeared to be a dazzling future ahead. In January—halfway through a “successful” freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania—Madison jumped to her death.

Her family has been admirably outspoken about suicide prevention (you may have seen Madison’s Dad on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel). In honor of this courageous family, I share Madison’s story—which could be any child’s story.

May is Mental Health Month. Kudos to Dr. Stephanie Bramlett, Camille DeMarco-Havens, and the St. Luke’s Student Council who developed activities designed to turn down the pressure knob (during what can be a particularly stressful time of year). Yesterday, Upper Schoolers ran around during a good old-fashioned recess period. The next few weeks include a nature walk, a group meditation, yoga and dance. The goal is simple: Have fun and relax a bit.

Small but worthwhile steps in a much longer journey.

P.S. My thanks to Stefanie Ciaccia who shared Madison’s story with me.

Update: This just in from Ginny Bachman: NPR’s On Point—Teenagers: The High Cost of Success. Worth a listen. Features guest speakers including psychologist Madeline Levine.