Olympic cyclist Kelly Catlin tragically took her own life on Friday, March 8 at the age of 23. Now, in an exclusive interview with RadarOnline.com, the athlete's sister revealed she previously attempted suicide just two months ago.
Kelly's sister, Christine Catlin, revealed to Radar on March 11 that the young athlete suffered a concussion recently that left a devastating impact on her physical and mental well-being.
"She had a concussion after a cycling crash and it changed her a lot," Christine said. "At the end of January, she tried to kill herself. That was a shock that shattered my family to the core."
Kelly was found unresponsive in her Stanford University dorm on March 8. The 23-year-old's cause and manner of death was ruled as asphyxia by suicide, the Santa Clara County coroner's office confirmed to Radar.
Kelly was the first-born triplet in her family. In addition to her fraternal sister, Christine, she also had a twin brother named Colin. Christine explained that her sister's passing has left a hole in the family.
"My brother and I feel really unbalanced without her being here," Christine said. "There was never supposed to be only two of us."
Kelly gained fame after unintentionally picking up the skill of cycling at the age of 17. The young athlete won gold medals in the women's team pursuit at the 2016, 2017 and 2018 UCI Track Cycling World Championships. She also won a silver medal at the Rio De Janiero Games in Brazil.
According to her sister, Kelly was as bright of a student as she was skilled as an athlete. She internally struggled with striving for perfection, Christine explained.
"It seemed she felt the symptoms from the concussion were permanent and she would never be able to perform as well as she used to academically and athletically," the sister told Radar.
The Catlins made many attempts to reach out to Kelly since her first shocking suicide attempt in January. Christine recalled her family calling her "all the time."
"She sounded most of the time like she was getting better," Christine said. "Sadly, she was pretty isolated at her dorm and she refused to let any of us come stay locally and look after her."
Christine explained that Kelly continued on with her busy lifestyle of school and cycling after the first suicide attempt.
"We wanted her to get help, but she was an adult (and a very intelligent one) and surely would have talked her way out of going to a treatment facility," said the sister.
In addition to cycling, Kelly was also a lover of horses and a skilled violinist. Her sister explained that despite the success she reached in her cycling career, Kelly "wanted to give Stanford 100%."
The twin sister described Kelly as a "kind, funny, sweet and ambitious person who felt she couldn't show any emotional or physical weakness."
Christine said her sister's heartbreaking passing can serve as a reminder to slow down and enjoy life.
"The lesson of her life is that nobody is a machine, everyone has feelings, and everyone needs to be able to take a break," Christine said. "I think it's important that people like her not be pushed too hard, because she could never say no. She was a people pleaser. Life isn't about success, it's about enjoying the moments."
If you or someone you know is in an emotional distress or suicidal, please call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
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