US cheerleader dies aged 19 after alarming online post about struggles with injury

Miller is the fourth student athlete to die in the US in the last three months

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Saturday 07 May 2022 11:27
<p>Arlana Miller, 19, was a student at Southern University and A&M College</p>

Arlana Miller, 19, was a student at Southern University and A&M College

A 19-year-old cheerleader at the Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana, who took to social media to share her struggles with mental health, died this week.

Arlana Miller, a first-year student from Texas, was announced dead by university authorities on Thursday, raising concern about the mounting pressure on student athletes in the United States.

"Our entire campus community is deeply saddened by the untimely death of Arlana Miller, a freshman who was majoring in agriculture on the Baton Rouge campus,” the university said in a statement on Facebook.

The university did not share the cause of her death, but the athletic department confirmed she died after putting up a post on social media.

It added that on 4 May at approximately 9pm local time, the athletic department was informed about a social media post "which ultimately led to this unfortunate announcement".

In her final post on Instagram, Millar wrote about her mental health struggles and history of suicidal thoughts. She wrote about her sufferings in this past year alone with Covid-19, tearing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and failing school.

The post has since been deleted from the platform, however, screenshots of her message continue to make rounds.

Floyd Sias, the university's cheerleading coach said, she made an impact on the team in a short time. "She was extremely dedicated to her sport, a tremendously hard worker, and a warm and engaging young woman. She will be missed. Our thoughts are with her family; her teammates and friends," he said in a statement.

Miller's death highlights the plight of student-athletes bound by tremendous pressure to perform on the field and academically. Since March 2022, three students have reportedly died by suicide across the country.

Katie Meyer, the 22-year-old captain of the Stanford University women's football team was found dead in her dorm. Sarah Shulze, 21, a star runner at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, died by suicide in April.

Days later, Lauren Bernett, a 20-year-old softball player at James Madison University was found dead.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

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