Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Seemed Destined for Glory. Then She Killed Herself.


“There was this profound apathy,” her father said. “She didn’t care about winning medals anymore.”

Life at Stanford was much different than she was used to. She moved into a dorm there after living with her brother at the University of Minnesota while finishing her undergraduate degree. Colin had cooked her meals and often had to trick her into taking breaks from studying and training, playing episodes of the television show “Stargate” because she could not resist science fiction.

At Stanford, she spent a lot of time alone because her roommate, a law student, was often not there.

After the concussion, Catlin simply could not focus anymore on school or cycling — or anything. In late January, she wrote that she had started planning her suicide before her crash and concussion. But her family thinks that was not true.

“For the first time in her life, Miss Stoical couldn’t force herself to go on,” her father said, choking up. “This is when she began planning her suicide.”

After her first suicide attempt, Catlin spent about a week in a hospital psychiatric ward. When she left that treatment, she began attending group therapy sessions, which she deemed useless, her parents said, and she said she could not find an available psychiatrist who met her needs.

When Catlin moved back into her on-campus apartment, her parents flew home to Minnesota to give her space, telling her, “We love you, we want you alive,” her father said. They banked on her assurances that she wouldn’t try to kill herself again. She had given her word, a part of her personal code they knew.

“She fooled us all,” her mother said.

The suicide attempt and concussion had damaged her brain and heart, her family said, so competing at the world championships on Feb. 27 was not possible. The day the championships began, Catlin wrote a blog post in which she described managing her cycling career with her graduate studies as “juggling with knives” and said, “I really am dropping a lot of them.” In a note she wrote in March, she said, “If I am not an athlete, I am nothing.”



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