Madison Holleran was a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Pennsylvania when she died by suicide on Jan. 17, 2014.
An hour before she jumped from a parking garage in downtown Philadelphia, she posted an image on Instagram of Rittenhouse Square; holiday lights are twinkling in the trees.
That image was one of hundreds on Madison's feed that projected a happy, content existence. But as Madison's friends and family now know, the track star from New Jersey was struggling more than anyone realized.
From "Split Image" in ESPN The Magazine's May 11 Fight For Perfection Issue:
"Madison's high school friends had told her they were also struggling. Emma Sullivan was running track at Boston College and having a hard time. Another friend, Jackie Reyneke, was playing basketball at Princeton and feeling overwhelmed. They had all shared some form of their struggles with Madison, yet in her mind, the lives her friends were projecting on social media trumped the reality they were privately sharing.
This confused them, and it still does.
Checking Instagram is like opening a magazine to see a fashion advertisement. Except an ad is branded as what it is: a staged image on glossy paper.
Instagram is passed off as real life.
Yes, people filter their photos to make them prettier. People are also often encouraged to put filters on their sadness, to brighten their reality so as not to "drag down" those around them. The myth still exists that happiness is a choice, which perpetuates the notion of depression as weakness.
Life must be Instagrammed -- in more ways than one."
This story is one of many that happens every day here in America. In 2013 it was reported that someone died by suicide every 12.8 minutes, making it a total of 41,149 suicides reported. Depression is a mental illness that we are all still trying to understand, and some people can hide it very well. There are many reasons why people commit suicide and many reasons why people get sad and depressed, but there are many ways that we can try to understand and help them.
In my personal opinion, I believe that some of it goes to the fact that our society wants us to keep some of our problems to ourselves. To not be as open as we should, because it could offend some people or it may give you or your family a bad image. Depression runs in my family and I have seen the effects it makes when you don't communicate and be open about it. This is why we want Be Bona Fide to be a platform to share who you really are! Share with us what you like about yourself, because there is no shame it that. Share with us your struggles, because I know many others can relate to you and help each other through difficult times. Share with us your victories and your setbacks, because that is what life is. Life is a roller coaster, we aren't always on a steady pace and that's okay. Social media has so many wonderful abilities. We get to share our stories, memories, pictures, videos, music, etc., but we also need to remember that not everything is as perfect looking as you see in pictures. It is one snapshot that gives you a small glimpse into the surface of someones life. As we learned from Madiosn Holleran, she looked like she was having the best time of your life and had it all, when inside she was trapped, alone and suicidal.
Let's share our struggles, our happy moments, and our fears. Remove the filter, both literally and metaphorically. #bebonafide #letsgetreal #removethefilter
I am going to #removethefilter on this photo above. I went to Boise, Idaho to visit my family after a shocking and emotional suicide was attempted by one of my family members (not pictured). It was a scary time for my family, but we banded together and tried to stay strong and help this person in my family. She fought many internal and mental battles and we had found out that there was a lot more that she was dealing with than we had thought.
We were trying everything we could to help, and one of the things she loved so much was the outdoors and taking walks. So we drove up to this little mountain and climbed to the top where it over looked the city and the rolling hills. We were all trying to take in everything that was going on and get through it day by day. It is still a struggle to think about and worry if it will ever happen again. But I know that these struggles and trials we go through make us stronger and help us understand each other better. I love you sister, and I will never lose hope in you. I will never give up on you.
Take us behind the scenes with one of your pictures and tag your friends with @bebonafide and #removethefilter.
xo | Laura