Southern University cheerleader dies at 19 after alarming social media post, school says

A freshman cheerleader at Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana died this week after posting an alarming message on social media, school officials said.

Arlana Miller, 19, was a freshman from Texas and a member of the school’s cheerleading squad.

“The entire campus community is deeply saddened by the untimely death of Arlana Miller, a freshman majoring in agriculture at the Baton Rouge campus,” said Southern University President and Chancellor Ray L. Belton. , in a statement Thursday.

The school did not disclose how he died.

The university’s athletics department said he died after posting on social media.

“On May 4, 2022, at approximately 9 p.m., the Southern University Athletics Department was notified of a social media post that ultimately led to this unfortunate announcement,” said the statement saying.

He allegedly shared a final Instagram post, talking about the death and his history of suicidal thoughts. Although she was removed from her page, screenshots of the post were distributed on social media.

He referenced his struggles over the past year with school, Covid-19 and a torn ACL.

The school’s athletic department said his death occurred during Mental Health Awareness Month, “a time to raise awareness of behavioral or mental health issues and to help reduce the stigma many experience.”

Both the university and the athletic department said counseling is available to all students and student-athletes.

“We ask for your prayers, love and support. Our deepest condolences to the Miller family, SU Cheer and friends. We love you Arlana #ForeverJag,” athletic director Roman Banks and the school’s athletic department said in the statement.

University police referred the comments to Southern University officials, who did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

Miller’s death comes amid a wave of student-athlete suicides that have highlighted the pressures students face academically, mentally and physically.

Since the beginning of March, three high-profile college athletes have committed suicide in the United States: Katie Meyer, a star goalie for the Stanford soccer team; Sarah Shulze, a top finalist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Lauren Bernett, an outstanding softball player from James Madison University.

Student-athletes can often feel like there’s too much on their plates and put pressure on themselves to perform at the highest level, experts say.

The family of Shulze, 21, said in a statement on April 15, “Balancing athletics, academics and the demands of everyday life overwhelmed her in a single desperate moment.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741, or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.

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