The Conversation Must Keep Going

Katie Meyer, 22 was a star athlete, captain and goaltender for Stanford University’s soccer team when she took her life on Tuesday. 

Her parents, in shock and completely heartbroken spoke through their tears early this morning on the “Today Show” about their daughter’s suicide. Her mom was donning Katie’s red hoodie so she could feel close to her. Katie was last seen wearing that same sweatshirt on Instagram just days earlier and it still had her scent on it. Their emotions were so raw.

Katie was a perfectionist, a high achiever, a true leader and was set to graduate Stanford this spring with honours. 

Her parents spoke to Katie on Facetime from her dorm room just hours before she took her own life. They said she sounded happy, excited and that she was in great spirits. That was Katie, always smiling.

Her family, her school community and her many friends have been left confused and in disbelief today as they try to make sense of what led Katie to such a tragedy; afterall, she was always smiling. According to her parents, she had been facing an undisclosed disciplinary action at Stanford after coming to the aid and defending a teammate on campus during an incident some time ago. Fear over a recent email from the disciplinary board pertaining to the incident may have possibly triggered Katie (her parents have not seen the email yet) but still believe there were other signs that they missed too. She had also been receiving an overwhelming amount of retaliation from school administration and other students over the incident. She helped someone who was being bullied and in turn became a victim of bullying herself. 

Katie had accomplished so much in her short life including leading her team to victory at the 2019 NCAA women’s soccer title. She had a very bright and promising future ahead of her. But we need to stop assuming that the elite athletes, the honour roll students, the perfectionists, the leaders and the children who are always smiling are just fine because the grim stats are showing otherwise. 

Her parent’s purpose of giving an interview this morning was in hopes of starting conversations about opening up better lines of communication between schools and parents. They feel as though they missed an opportunity to step in and help their daughter. 

Except in the eyes of the law when a person reaches the age of 18 they are considered to be an adult. But we cannot lose our focus here. We need to remember that our brains are still developing when we reach “adulthood” and are not considered to be fully developed until around the age of 25.

Yes, maybe our kids become less  dependent on us as they once were when they reach “18” but they are still learning and growing and in need of guidance, especially given that the rational part of their brain is what’s still developing and can easily hinder good judgment, decision-making and awareness of long term consequences and unfortunately at the same time when you become an “adult” many of our privileges as parents quickly become hindered too, making it that much more difficult to help advocate for them when needed, especially surrounding their mental health. 

Parents need to ensure that no matter what age their child is that they always feel emotionally safe and easy for them to open up to someone they trust and yes maybe institutions such as Colleges and Universities should also have an obligation to be more proactive in certain situations in order to prevent such tragedies like this one from happening again.

Keep the conversation going, keep talking about mental health with your kids, keep ensuring that they know that it’s okay to not be okay, keep teaching your children how to cope in difficult situations, keep showing them love and give them space and encouragement and keep giving them permission to fail because perfection is unattainable and will only suffocate their ability to grow.

“We need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.” ~Desmond Tutu

RIP Katie

If you or someone you love is struggling please call: Canada Suicide Prevention Service, 1.833.456.4566 or Kids Help Phone, 1.800.668.6868 or check your local listings.

#youarenotalone #youareenough #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #ripkatie #itsoktonotbeok  #openingupconversations #keeptalking #keeplistening #endthestigmatogether #ouryouthmatter #ourmentalhealthmatters  

Author: Kim Fluxgold

Wife, mom of 3 beautiful children, dog lover, creative sole and children's book Author. Sharing my journey with depression and anxiety through blogging in hopes of educating and ending the stigma.

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