US Olympic cyclist Kelly Caitlin found dead in Stanford University at the age of only 23 years. Catlin committed suicide.
Catlin helped the US national team win three consecutive world titles between 2016 and 2018, also winning the World Track Championships in 2017 and 2018.
The cyclist was found in her Stanford residence last week, and in a letter sent to VeloNews, Catlin’s father, Mark Catlin, said she took her own life, writing, “There isn’t a minute that goes by that we don’t think of her and think of the wonderful life she could have lived. There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable.”
The cyclist gave VeloNews an interview a week before her death, saying, “Being a graduate student, track cyclist, and professional road cyclist can instead feel like I need to time-travel to get everything done. And things still slip through the cracks. This is probably the point when you’ll expect me to say something cliché like, ‘Time management is everything.’ Or perhaps you’re expecting a nice, encouraging slogan like, ‘Being a student only makes me a better athlete!’ After all, I somehow make everything work, right?”
She added, “Sure. Yeah, that’s somewhat accurate. But the truth is that most of the time, I don’t make everything work. It’s like juggling with knives, but I really am dropping a lot of them. It’s just that most of them hit the floor and not me.”
Her siblings Colin Catlin and Christine Catlin told The Washington Post that she sustained a concussion and broken arm in two separate crashes last year, saying, “She couldn’t train as well as she used to. She had really bad headaches and was sensitive to light.”
They added, “Then she tried to commit suicide in January the same way. She had written this lengthy email [to her family] and said her thoughts were racing all the time. She was suicidal, her thinking was really dark, and she had taken to nihilism. We called the police the moment we got the email and they got there in time to save her that time.”
USA Cycling President and CEO, Rob DeMartini, wrote in a statement, “The U.S. cycling community suffered a devastating loss with the passing of Kelly Catlin, USA Cycling National Team member. Kelly was more than an athlete to us, and she will always be part of the USA Cycling family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Catlin family. This is an incredibly difficult time and we want to respect their privacy.”
He added, “We are deeply saddened by Kelly’s passing, and we will all miss her dearly. We hope everyone seeks the support they need through the hard days ahead, and please keep the Catlin family in your thoughts.”
Catlin’s friend Heidi Franz took to social media to write, “Kelly, I will never know another human being like you. Being your teammate was an absolute joy. We love you and miss you so much. This is so hard. Let’s take care of each other.”
Miss Erikson also wrote, “I’ve been staring at this photo for an hour now. I’m numb. I don’t have words for this feeling. I am heartbroken, and I am angry. I’m so sorry, Kelly. My heart is with her family, and our entire community. ‘Ask for a rest day, or, if you’re fortunate to be your own taskmaster (er, coach), give yourself a rest day. Unlike everything else in life, it cannot possibly do you harm.'”
May she rest in peace.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).