One year after the suicide of the star athlete and student, her friends and family open up to PEOPLE

By Nicole Weisensee Egan
January 23, 2015 06:40 AM
Courtesy Holleran Family

Madison Holleran was a girls varsity soccer and track star, a 4.1 GPA student in high school and a popular girl with a lot of friends and a supportive family.

In August 2013 she began her freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, eager to run track.

“Penn just may be the greatest place on earth,” the Allendale, New Jersey, teen Tweeted on Aug. 25.

But by December she was seeking help for depression at the student health center. Then, on Jan. 17, 2014, Holleran, 19, killed herself by jumping from a parking garage.

Still deep in grief and searching for answers a year later, her loved ones hope sharing her story might save another student struggling far from home.

“Depression can affect anyone, no matter how successful or well loved,” says her dad, Jim Holleran, 53.

With PEOPLE writer Nicki Egan, those closest to Madison – along with others who encountered her in her final days – try to retrace what went wrong.