On Friday, Olympic cyclist Kelly Catlin was found dead via apparent suicide in her Standford University campus residence. She was 23. Her family revealed to People over the weekend that the young Olympian had been struggling mentally for several weeks prior to her death, and often spoke about wanting to commit suicide. According to Catlin’s parents, she became depressed after suffering from a concussion in December.
“On the phone she went back and forth from saying she was learning to appreciate things and enjoy life to saying if things didn’t change in a month, she was probably still going to kill herself,” Catlin’s 23-year-old sister, Christine, explained. “I thought we had more time. My last words to her were, ‘Please don’t kill yourself.'”
Christine added that she and her parents had not heard from Catlin in about a week, and that she was getting a “sad” feeling about that.
Catlin competed on the U.S. women’s cycling team in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, where they ultimately took home the silver medal. She also raced for the Rally UHC Pro Cycling Team, and pursued a graduate degree in computational mathematics at the same time.
The cyclist suffered a concussion and broke her arm when she crashed during a race last year, according to The Guardian. She began having vision problems — including sensitivity to light — and headaches, which often stifled her ability to train with her team.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 11, 2019
Concussions are often linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE, but this condition can only be diagnosed after death. Symptoms of CTE can include depression, memory loss, and mood swings. The condition is often found in former American football players, such as NFL veterans.
“She had a lack of enthusiasm for the Olympic team, for training, for everything in life. We were concerned. She ran herself down. The concussion had a profound impact on her. She had these mental issues and she started to feel trapped,” Catlin’s father, Mark, said.
Catlin had previously attempted suicide in January, but survived. She sought mental treatment before returning to school. She had written a suicide note in an email to her family at the time, stating that her mind was not “working as it used to,” and it was “torturing her mentally.”
Her father noted what a great loss this is to the cycling world, as Catlin had great things ahead of her.
In a statement about Catlin’s death, USA Cycling president and CEO Rob DeMartini said that the young athlete will always be a part of the cycling family, according to E! News.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.