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The tragedy of life under pressure

Sometimes it’s the little tragedies in life that go unnoticed.

If a world-champion boxer or basketball player was to commit suicide at the age of 23, there would be a lot of media coverage. There are other sports, however, where the champions face the same pressures.

In a story in the Washington Post, the family of three-time world champion cyclist Kelly Catlin, who died aged 23 last week, say she had changed after crashing her bike last year.

They believe she took her own life as a consequence of two accidents.

Catlin broke her arm last October, which was followed by a crash in December in which she sustained concussion.

“She was not the Kelly that we knew,” her father Mark Catlin said.

“She spoke like a robot. We could get her to talk, but we wondered, ‘what has happened to our Kelly?’,” he added.

Catlin, who was born in Saint Paul, graduated from the University of Minnesota last year with degrees in mathematics and Chinese and was studying computational and mathematical engineering at Stanford University in California.

Her father said that she attempted suicide in January, before ending her life last week.

“For her, she could no longer concentrate on her studies or train as hard. She couldn’t fulfill what she felt were her obligations to herself, she couldn’t live up to her own standards.”

In a recent blog for the velonews.com website, Catlin had written that she sometimes felt as if she needed “to time-travel to get everything done. And things still slip through the cracks.

“It’s like juggling with knives, but I really am dropping a lot of them. It’s just that most of them hit the floor and not me.”

I saw a couple of little blurbs on this story last week and, I now regret, didn’t read the full story. I saw the main story I’ve pulled this information from on the BBC website.

Some years ago, a young country singer named Blaine Larsen had a song called “How Do You Get That Lonely”, about a young man committing suicide, and catching everyone who knew him by surprise.

The case with Kelly Catlin was different, since her family and probably some of her friends knew that something was wrong. But they probably continued to hope everything would work out well.

Unfortunately it didn’t.

If you know someone who you suspect may be having problems, reach out, let them know you care. Don’t try to baby them, but find out what is troubling them, and work with them to find help.

It may not help. Sometimes it doesn’t.

But maybe, just maybe, it will, and your friend will be with you again.

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