Track star Sarah Shulze of the University of Wisconsin dies at 21 years old

A student-athlete from the University of Wisconsin-Madison died of suicide, her family said.

Sarah Shulze, a star runner on the women’s athletics and cross-country team at the university, died earlier this month at the age of 21.

In a statement issued on April 15 to a website dedicated to her life, her family said she had died just two days before April 13.

“Sarah took her own life,” the statement said. “Balancing athletics, academics and everyday demands overwhelmed her in a single, desperate moment.”

Her family said they had been “shocked and saddened” by Shulze’s death. “Above all else, Sarah was a force for good in the world,” they said.

In a separate statement posted on the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Twitter account, the school said its athletic community had been “crushed” after Shulze’s death.

“Sarah was a beloved daughter, sister, granddaughter, friend, teammate and Badger student-athlete,” the school said. “We express our deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to Sarah’s family, friends and Badger teammates during this extraordinarily difficult time.”

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In 2020, it was among the top nine leading causes of death for people aged 10-64 years and was the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-14 and 25-34, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last month, the parents of the star goalkeeper on Stanford University’s women’s football team announced that their daughter, Katie Meyer, had died by suicide.

Meyer, 22, was from Newbury Park, California, and had studied as a specialist in international relations and as a minor in history.

In an interview with NBC’s “TODAY” show, Meyer’s mother, Gina, said there had been “no red flags” before her daughter’s death. “She was excited. She had a lot on her plate. She was going on a lot. But she was, she was happy. She was in a good mood,” she said.

Shulze, who was from Oak Park, California, also looked set to have a promising future, achieving All-Big Ten honors in 2020 and 2021 for cross-country skiing and in 2021 for track, according to her profile on the university’s athletics page.

She had originally marked herself as an athlete in high school, and eventually she competed in national and state events, her family said.

They said she had received a scholarship to run for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which was “an enduring source of pride for Sarah as she entered her third season with the team.”

In addition to being a track star, Shulze’s family said, she was also a member of the Student Athletic Council at her university and had interned in the Wisconsin State Legislature. She had also volunteered as a pollster for the 2020 presidential election. “These experiences helped develop her deep love for politics, social affairs and women’s rights,” they said.

“Sarah considered herself a champion for all women, as were the many family members, friends, students and athletes who surrounded her,” they said.

In the wake of her death, Shulze’s family has set up the Sarah Shulze Foundation, which they said would help other student-athletes and support a range of causes she was passionate about, including women’s rights and mental health.

Shulze’s family said a service would be held in Westlake Village, California, on May 2.

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, sms TAL to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.

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