"What Made Maddy Run," by Kate Fagan, is a biographical account of an Ivy League freshman track star, who is supported by her caring family from a place just like Dublin.
Maddy is struggling with mental-health issues connected to her transition to college. Tragically, in her second semester at the University of Pennsylvania, Maddy ended her life.
Dublin City Schools officials chose this book for a community book read. In March, Kate Fagan visited Dublin Scioto High School to lead a discussion for more than 700 people on these emotional issues.
What happened in Maddy's life to go from a model student-athlete to death by suicide? This is the book's enigma capturing a national dilemma.
Across the nation and in Dublin, there is an increasing number of students who struggle with mental-health issues in high school and college.
Dublin City Schools dedicated the entire Parent University program to this topic. To build awareness and help guide parents, the district will continue to focus on student mental-health issues in our schools and community.
Fagan's discussion in Dublin was emotional and her delivery thoughtful and empathic. Fagan taught us a lot about mental-health misunderstandings and stigmas, about social media and how to talk about suicide.
First, a person can be thriving on the outside athletically and academically -- like Maddy -- and be struggling with mental-health issues on the inside.
Additionally, exacerbating all of this is the ever-present role of social media in our society.
On social media, according to Fagan, everyone projects a perfect life like a highlight reel.
Maddy projected an image of herself as thriving, as did her friends, punctuating every text and post with emojis. In other words, there are not always palpable or noticeable signs of mental-health struggles.
At the parking garage where Maddy died, she left a bag of gifts and a note that started with: "I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse perhaps to be locked in."
This quote from noted author Virginia Woolf (who drowned herself) captures the Catch-22 between Maddy and her family and friends. The more Maddy locked them out by hiding her illness the more she was locked in alone.
In seeking to provide guideposts and answers, Kate Fagan places a chapter between each biographical chapter about Maddy discussing important aspects of mental health and suicide.
First and foremost, the message from Kate Fagan is to reduce the stigma around mental illness "for all those seeking hope," which is from the dedication page in the book. And as noted by her editor: "The book ... is a special work. ... Think about it. Talk about it. Share it. Be a part of changing the narrative."
In the schools, we will continue to include educators, advocates, teachers and parents across the country to find a comprehensive approach to mental health and education.
Dublin Board of Education Member Stu Harris submitted the School Notes column.