James Madison U. Grieves for Softball Star After Suicide

Days earlier, Lauren Bernett was named Player of the Week in her conference
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2022 3:52 AM CDT
Star JMU Softball Catcher Dies in Apparent Suicide
James Madison catcher Lauren Bernett during a NCAA softball game on Friday, May 28, 2021 in Columbia, Mo.   (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Lauren Bernett, star catcher for the James Madison University softball team, died in an apparent suicide on Tuesday, according to NBC News. In a statement announcing the death of the 20-year-old sophomore, JMU President Jonathan Alger said, “Our hearts are aching, hearing the news of the loss of one of our student-athletes. Lauren Bernett was a high-achieving member of our softball team and a great ambassador of JMU and our athletics program.” A specific cause of death was not provided. The local sheriff’s department said “the official report from the Medical Examiner’s Office is pending, and out of respect for her family and friends, there is no other information to release at this time.”

As a freshman in 2021, Bernett helped her unseeded team in an astounding upset victory over Oklahoma in the opener of the NCAA Women’s College World Series. According to ESPN, she was named Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week on Monday "following a weekend series in which she went 7-for-9 with 7 RBIs, 4 runs, and a home run." She was found dead the next day. ESPN also notes that Bernett’s death follows two other recent suicides by prominent female college athletes: Katie Meyer, goalkeeper and captain on Stanford’s soccer team, and Sarah Shulze, a track star for Wisconsin.

CBS reports that JMU on Wednesday cancelled its doubleheader against rival Longwood, as well as an upcoming three-game series against Delaware. The school offered mental-health resources and urged anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts to reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-8255. Beginning this summer, the national number will transition to 988. (More James Madison University stories.)

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