A university cheerleader tragically took her life after a social media post, drawing attention to the mounting pressure felt by athletes.
While much of the world’s focus remains on the COVID 19 pandemic, another kind of epidemic is said to be ravaging nations, and that is mental health. The concern has become so large, that the American Academy of Pediatrics has declared the crisis a national emergency. In girls, the crisis is felt vehemently, with reports suggesting that suicide attempts among teen girls have skyrocketed since the onset of the pandemic. Now, a university cheerleader has unfortunately left the world unexpectedly, further conveying that the issue needs to be addressed and dealt with.
NBC News reports that Arlana Miller, a 19-year-old freshman cheerleader at Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana died earlier this week. Before her untimely death, Miller had posted an ominous message to her Instagram account. The post has since been taken down, but media outlets and social media users circulated screenshots of the post.
Much of the university cheerleader’s final words were alarming. Miller had referenced various battles she faced over the past few years. She discussed her struggles with school after coming down with COVID-19, tearing her ACL, and failing out of classes. She also cited her ongoing conflict with suicidal thoughts from an early age.
The school’s athletic department announced the teen’s death in a statement on Twitter. Within the post, it was alleged that she took her life following her lengthy social media post. Sharing their deep condolences for the university cheerleader, the Tweet shared information for the Holistic Behavioural Health Hotline as well.
Arlana Miller’s death comes at a time of raised concern and awareness of the pressures mounted on many athletes, especially those who are students like this university cheerleader. There has long been a stigma around mental health and sports, causing many to feel they must stay in the closet about the subject. Veteran NBA star Kevin Love was one of the prominent athletes to raise awareness of the issue in recent years when he wrote a personal essay discussing his own struggles with mental health via The Players Tribune.
Since the beginning of March, three other distinguished college student-athletes have now died by suicide across the nation. Katie Meyer was a star goalkeeper on Stanford’s soccer team before she took her life. Sarah Shulze was an apex runner for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And Lauren Bernett was a prominent softball player for James Madison University. All of these young girls’ families have spoken out about the mounting pressure the athletes faced before their death, much like Arlana Miller, the university cheerleader.
Miller’s death happened to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month, as mentioned by her school’s athletic department. In a growing fashion, student-athletes feel perpetual pressure to perform better, all while trying to balance grades and personal life. One of the recently deceased student’s parents released a statement pertaining to this issue, saying that their daughter’s suicide was the direct result of the overwhelming demands placed on her. It’s not just a concern to Shulze’s family, as the matter is striking communities across America, and now the country mourns the loss of the young university cheerleader taken far too soon.