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Family speaks out about pressures that led star college runner Sarah Shulze to take her own life at 21

Madison, Wisconsin — Sarah Shulze, a runner on the University of Wisconsin's track and cross country teams, has died. She was 21.

Shulze's family announced on April 15 that she had died two days earlier, and gave the cause of death.

"Sarah took her own life," the family said. "Balancing athletics, academics and the demands of everyday life overwhelmed her in a single, desperate moment. Like you, we are shocked and grief stricken while holding on tightly to all that Sarah was.

"Above all other things, Sarah was a power for good in the world. Her deep compassion was evident in her devotion to her sisters Abbey and Ella, the love her parents felt from her every single day, and the extra care she took in moments shared with her grandparents and cousins."

Wisconsin officials put out a statement Friday that referenced the family's announcement. 


"Sarah was a beloved daughter, sister, granddaughter, friend, teammate and Badger student-athlete," Wisconsin officials said in a statement. "We extend our deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to Sarah's family, friends and Badger teammates during this extraordinarily difficult time. Our primary focus is the support of the Shulze family and our student-athletes."

Shulze was a junior from Oak Park, California. She competed in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track, and earned academic all-Big Ten honors in 2020 and 2021 for cross country and in 2021 for track.

Family members said she had been an intern at the Wisconsin legislature and volunteered as a poll worker during the 2020 presidential election. They said those experiences "helped develop her deep love for politics, social causes and women's rights."

Shulze's relatives said they would soon announce a foundation "that will be established to continue to support the causes most important to Sarah."

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email

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