Madison Holleran’s Notes Dispel the Myth of the Selfish Suicide


Family, friends and scenes from Madison Holleran’s Instagram feed.

The family of Madison Holleran — the 19-year-old Penn student who jumped to her death a year ago — provided her suicide note to People magazine, for publication in its February 2, 2015 issue. It might seem a painful reminder of their beloved daughter’s death, but it was done as part of what has become a beautifully altruistic impulse on their part: to raise awareness of the struggles college freshmen face and to propel dialogue between family members. Her father was quoted by People’s Nicole Egan as saying, “Parents, if you see a huge change in your child and you haven’t discussed suicide with them, open that discussion up.” (See the Madison Holleran Foundation for more information on the mission.)

Her family found two suicide notes, actually. The one in her dorm room read:

“I don’t know who I am anymore. trying. trying. trying,” the note said. “I’m sorry. I love you … sorry again … sorry again … sorry again … How did this happen?”

The second, accompanied by gifts for family members, read:

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Penn Profs: Bring Back Mental Asylums


The mental asylum of 2015. Photo:

A group of bioethicists at the University of Pennsylvania have taken a bold stand in a paper published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association: They say the United States should bring back mental asylums.

Dominic Sisti, director the university’s Scattergood Program for the Applied Ethics of Behavioral Healthcare, along with co-authors Ezekiel Emanuel and Andrea Segal, write that there are a whopping 10 million Americans today with serious mental illness. But there are only 45,000 inpatient psychiatric beds in the country. Today’s per-capita bed count is about what it was in 1850 — 1850! — according to the paper.

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Penn Employee Asks University to Reconsider Hosting Anti-Gay Red Cross Blood Drive

Blood Header

University of Pennsylvania Administrative Coordinator Joseph Hallman was taken back when he received an email from the Penn Professional Staff Assembly (PPSA) announcing that Red Cross would be holding a blood drive on campus. The reason? The Red Cross excludes gay men from donating blood, a touchy topic as the FDA recently endorsed a lifetime gay blood ban. In response to the University’s announcement, Hallman composed an email to the chair of PPSA, expressing his concerns regarding the discriminatory practices of the Red Cross: Read more »

ThinkFest Preview: Amy Gutmann Discusses Penn’s Next Decade With Jim Gardner

University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann and 6 ABC anchor Jim Gardner.

University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann and 6 ABC anchor Jim Gardner.

Now in her 10th year as president of the University of Pennsylvania, Amy Gutmann has a decade of educational, institutional, and civic accomplishments behind her: the greater diversity of Penn’s student body through the expansion of financial aid, improved relations with the university’s West Philadelphia neighbors, the 2011 opening of Penn Park, and a record 2013 fundraising effort that brought $4.3 billion to the school. (She was even at Davos this year discussing women and leadership with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.)

But as Gutmann once said to Philadelphia magazine, “people and places should never rest on their laurels” — so we’ve invited 6 ABC’s Jim Gardner to interview her about the next decade at Penn. Hear what’s on the drawing board at one of the city’s largest employers and economic engines, from a far-reaching Compact 2020 plan that seeks to increase the university’s local and global impact to the latest on Penn Connects, the university’s development and urban design vision.

Join us on November 14th at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business for a day of the city’s smartest people sharing their biggest ideas. Read all of our ThinkFest 2014 previews here, and watch the livestream, starting at 9 a.m. on Friday November 14th.

Meet the Penn Grad Blogging About His Olive Garden Pass

matt pershe-beforeMatt Pershe recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and has joined AmeriCorps. His AmeriCorps stipend has him looking for cheap food and he’s found it in Olive Garden’s “Never Ending Pasta Pass.” an all-you-can-eat-for-seven-weeks for $99 deal offered by the Italian restaurant chain.

Pershe is documenting the time while he tries to get his money’s worth and not turn into a “pasta-sized” version of himself.

The writing draws you in and we’ll be checking back in with Pershe as the days and alfredo slip by.

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How the Penn Working Dog Center Turns Puppies Into Saviors

Logan (German shepherd), Felony (Dutch shepherd), and Quest (German shepherd). Photography by Joseph Balestra

Logan (German shepherd), Felony (Dutch shepherd), and Quest (German shepherd). Photography by Joseph Balestra

There’s a golden retriever in the ladies’ room.

It’s my first visit to the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, and traffic was tied up on the Expressway, and I had a large latte on the way here, and pretty much the first thing I said to Ashley Berke, the PR woman who greeted me, was, “Ladies’ room?” She led me through a vast concrete-floored space lined with metal crates full of dogs who yapped and barked as we passed them. Even so, I’m not expecting another dog, in a crate, in the ladies’ room.

The dog stands there, looking at me. I look back. It seems … rude not to address her — him? So I say, “Hey there! How are you?”

The dog doesn’t answer. Doesn’t even wag. Just stands and looks at me.

“’Scuse me,” I say, and duck into a stall.

The dog is still standing there when I come out. There’s something unnerving about its silent vigilance. But there’s also a need in me to try to make a connection. You can’t ignore a dog, you know? So I offer my hand, up against the metal crate. The dog sniffs it, with the merest swish of its tail.
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