The sadness of Sarah Shulze: Family confirms University of Wisconsin runner, 21, took her own life
Sarah's parents believe that her suicide would help others comprehend the vulnerability of mental health
Sarah Shulze, a college athlete at the University of Wisconsin, died by suicide on Wednesday, April 13, according to a family statement. The family also acknowledged that the 21-year-old runner's death came after a long battle with mental health issues.
Sarah's "legacy of compassion" lives on in those who received her organs, which her family donated on Good Friday. Her family also intends to form a foundation to continue to assist the causes most important to her. Sarah's parents believe that her suicide would help others comprehend the vulnerability of mental health. "Sarah took her own life," her relatives announced two days after her death. "Balancing athletics, academics and the demands of everyday life overwhelmed her in a single, desperate moment. Like you, we are shocked and grief-stricken while holding on tightly to all that Sarah was." "Sarah regarded herself as a champion for all women, as did the many family members, friends, students, and athletes who surrounded her," the Shulzes added, mourning her death.
The exceptional runner, originally from Oak Park, California, was a junior at Wisconsin. According to her family, her devotion to her sport, which began on her high school track and cross-country teams, resulted in an athletic scholarship to the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Sarah was in her third season with the Badgers, competing in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. She was named to the Academic All-Big Ten in cross country in 2020 and 2021, and in track in 2021.
"Sarah was a beloved daughter, sister, granddaughter, friend, teammate, and Badger student-athletes," Wisconsin officials expressed in a statement. "We extend our deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to Sarah's family, friends, and Badger teammates during this extraordinarily difficult time. Our primary focus is the support of the Shulze family and our student-athletes."
Sarah was also a member of the UW Madison Student-Athlete Council. Her loved ones said she worked hard to be a force for good in the world, citing her "deep love for politics, social causes and women's rights." Sarah interned in the Wisconsin Assembly and worked as a poll worker for the 2020 presidential election. She will be remembered at a memorial service in Wisconsin on April 24 and in her home state of California on May 2.
"Above all other things, Sarah was a power for good in the world,' her loved ones said. 'Her deep compassion was evident in her devotion to her sisters Abbey and Ella, the love her parents felt from her every single day, and the extra care she took in moments shared with her grandparents and cousins."
Those who knew her remembered how she succeeded in both athletics and life. "The world is a better place for Sarah having been part of it," Tim Chevalier, her former high school's athletic director, told VC Star. "While her passing has been difficult to process, I take hope that her stories will continue to be told and her positive impact on others will be remembered. In the classroom, Sarah was a top-notch student. On the track, Sarah was a fierce competitor who [was] absolutely electric and continually pushed herself to be great. Off the track, Sarah was a gentle and kind soul, a loving daughter, sister, friend and human who will be dearly missed by those who knew her and loved her."
Sarah's high school coach Steve White described her as having "mental toughness" in addition to outstanding physical ability. "She has that unique gift to go out there and punish herself. Knowing what it's going to take to meet the goals she would set. It goes to her mental toughness," he told Mail Online.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741)