Why Are We Writing About Madison Holleran? [Updated]

Penn student, a track star, committed suicide on Friday.

[Updated 7:37 pm] 

Joel Mathis writes: I’d like to offer my sincere apologies to the family and friends of Madison Holleran. The short post below was not intended as a slur on her, her character, or her community, but was an attempt to sort out why her suicide—which the media ordinarily treats as a private act—had become so public. My intent was to express condolences while still getting at that issue; instead, this post has been widely read in a way I did not intend. As the writer—a person whose job it is to communicate with clarity—I accept fault, and lament the pain I have caused. My well wishes to all who grieve for Ms. Holleran.

[Original 2:20 pm] We don’t write about suicides very often — not at Philly Mag, and not at very many outlets. There are exceptions to this every now and again — if the suicide was spectacular in some fashion (and sorry about the wording, but let’s be honest) or if the dead person was somehow very well known.

So we’re not sure why the suicide of Penn student Madison Holleran has drawn quite as much gawking attention as it has, especially outside of Philly: Papers in New York and Texas have carried the news, even while ignoring the suicides that must surround them every day. She was a Penn student and an athlete — on the track and field team — so not a household name. Her method of death — jumping from a parking garage at 15th and Spruce — is gruesome. Yet it is sadly not uncommon.

Maybe everyone is writing about Madison Holleran because, well, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, they can. She left behind a social media trail. She left behind photos. Or maybe we’re doing it because she appeared to be a “bright, beautiful girl,” as she was described in the Philly Daily News.

All of the writing, however, has shed very little light on what can only be described as an incredibly sad turn of events. So: We hereby note Holleran’s passing. We offer heartfelt condolences to family and friends. And we’ll just maybe shut up about this for now and let her friends and family grieve.