In My Backyard
In My Backyard
Season 2: Episode #1 - Suicide and Elite Student Athletes

Today’s podcast discusses suicide, which might be painful and triggering for some listeners. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or are worried that someone you love might be suicidal, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. That is 1-800-273-TALK, or 8255. Help is available. 

This episode discusses the recent heartbreaking pattern of completed suicides by elite female student athletes. Since March of this year, four high-profile female athletes have taken their own lives on college campuses. All were top performing athletes at major universities and seemed to have everything going for them. Katie Meyer was a star goalkeeper for the Stanford University soccer team – an elite athlete at an elite school. Sarah Shulze was a top cross-country runner for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a local California girl before heading to college. Lauren Bernett was a champion softball catcher for James Madison University. Her death by suicide so impacted the team, the season was cancelled. Arlana Miller was a freshman on the cheerleading team at Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana. She as only 19 when she died by suicide. 

Being an elite college athlete does not statistically mean greater risk of mental illness, depression or suicide. Dr. Ashwin Rao et al found in 2015 that suicide rates among NCAA athletes was “lower than that of the general and collegiate population of similar age,” although it was still the third leading cause of death among this group. In fact, school sports bring with them many potential mental health benefits – being outside, being a member of a team, and physical activity are all things that we know improve mental and emotional well-being.  

In this episode Patricia speaks with Dr. Julie Amato, a licensed clinical and sports psychologist and CEO of Elite Mindset Sports Psychology. She works with high-level athletes and teams across the country on developing the skills and practices necessary to overcome obstacles and push the boundaries of athletic potential. Julie is herself a former Division 1 college and then professional basketball player.  

In My Backyard is brought to you by The Guidance Center, a children’s mental health agency in Long Beach, CA. In My Backyard is produced by Tricia Costales and Matthew Murray. Thank you to Jay Vincent B for original music. All other music licensed through SoundStripe. Thank you to our listeners and supporters.

Please visit or text HOPE to 562-262-5689 to make a one-time donation or join our Hope and Healing Club to become a monthly donor today. And subscribe to In My Backyard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.