Kelly Catlin's sister opens up after the 23-year-old's suicide: 'Please don't kill yourself, were my last words to her'
The rising athlete died in an apparent suicide in her Stanford University dorm room on Friday after struggling with mental health problems.
Olympic cyclist Kelly Catlin who was found dead in her Stanford dorm room reportedly spoke to her sister about her struggles in the weeks leading up to her death.
In a conversation with People, Christine Catlin, 23, spoke of her conversation with the 23-year-old who was found dead last Friday. “On the phone, she went back and forth from saying she was learning to appreciate things and enjoy life to saying if things didn’t change in a month, she was probably still going to kill herself,” she said.
“This was only two weeks ago. I thought we had more time. My last words to her were, ‘Please don’t kill yourself.’ “
Catlin's roommate found her lifeless on Friday in her Stanford University dorm room in California, after which she contacted the police.
Catlin, a competitive cyclist, helped the US women’s pursuit team win the silver medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. She rose to prominence when she raced for the Rally UHC Pro Cycling Team as part of the US national team.
The sisterhood of pro cycling is absolutely devastated to hear the news of @kelly_catlin’s death. Suicide claimed this amazing woman, Olympic silver medalist, world champ, Stanford grad student. We’ll never know the weight she carried, but we will carry her in our hearts forever. pic.twitter.com/3slCUPjN26— Kathryn Bertine (@KathrynBertine) March 10, 2019
At the time of her death, the athlete was pursuing a graduate degree in computational mathematics at Stanford University. “When I heard the news I was biking and my mom called me,” Christine recalled of the fateful day.
“We had been worried because [Kelly] hadn’t answered the phone in, like, a week. I was having a really sad feeling about that. When my mom called me I was hyperventilating and crying. I’ve been numb ever since.”
The 23-year-old's mental health struggles began in December after she suffered a concussion during a cycling event, according to her family. Speaking to People, Catlin’s father, Mark Catlin said that soon after the accident, she began having severe headaches, vision problems, and was unable to complete workouts with her team.
“My wife and I talked to her weekly on the phone and she started to express apathy about cycling, which she’d never done before,” Mark said.
“She had a lack of enthusiasm for the Olympic team, for training, for everything in life. We were concerned. She ran herself down. The concussion had a profound impact on her. She had these mental issues and she started to feel trapped.”
In January, Catlin tried to kill herself but somehow survived. For about two weeks after the attempted suicide, she underwent mental health treatment before resuming school. According to Christine, the family was shocked when Kelly sent them and her close friends a note via email.
In the letter, it looked like Catlin was describing symptoms of the concussion, Christine believes. “She wrote that she had been having racing thoughts and her mind wasn’t working the way it used to," Christine said.
“She described being tortured mentally by not being able to do what she used to do.”
The family is currently struggling to come to terms with Catlin's passing as they work on funeral arrangements.
Catlin is survived by her sister and brother, Colin, and her parents, Mark, 66, and Carolyn Emory, 67.
“She had such a bright future. She was so multi-talented,” a tearful Mark told People. “There was so much about life that she enjoyed and this was such a temporary setback that she couldn’t see through. It’s such a loss to the world and a loss to her that she’s gonna miss so many good things. She had so much to look forward to. Now it’s not gonna happen.”
“Kelly was more than an athlete to us, and she will always be part of the USA Cycling family,” USA Cycling chief executive Rob DeMartini said in a statement.