The family of champion cyclist Kelly Catlin believe that a concussion she suffered in a December crash may have contributed to her decision to take her own life.
Catlin, a Twin Cities native, was found dead at her home in California last week at the age of just 23.
During her short but illustrious cycling career, the Arden Hills-raised Catlin won silver in team pursuit at the 2016 Olympics, as well as three consecutive world titles in the same competition between 2016 and 2018.
But in an interview with the Washington Post this week, her father Mark says that his daughter changed in the past six months after several crashes, which was followed by a concussion in December.
He said his daughter had experienced depression, overtraining, headaches and "possible cardiac issues," and after the concussion he said his daughter started "embracing nihilism."
He told the WaPo:
"There was no purpose. This was a person with depression. For her, she could no longer concentrate on her studies or train as hard. She couldn’t fulfill what she felt were her obligations to herself, she couldn’t live up to her own standards. She couldn’t realize that what she needed to do was get away and rest, heal. We were all searching for the magic words, that life was worth living.”
Catlin's family has since made the decision to donate her brain to the Veterans Affairs-Boston University-Concussion Legacy Foundation Brain Bank, in the hope of finding an answer to what led to her behavioral changes.
It comes at a time when there is increasingly intense scrutiny of the impact of concussions on athletes, particularly in the NFL and NHL.
Tributes have flooded in since the 23-year-old's death was announced, including from local and national organizations in the cycling world.