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Southern University cheerleader dies 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 authorities said. 

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

“Our entire campus community is deeply saddened by the untimely death of Arlana Miller, a freshman who was majoring in agriculture on the Baton Rouge campus,” Southern University’s President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton said in a statement Thursday.

The school did not disclose her age or how she died.

The university’s athletic department said she died after posting on social media.

“On May 4, 2022, at approximately 9PM, Southern University Athletic Department was notified of a social media post which ultimately led to this unfortunate announcement,” the statement said.

She allegedly shared a final Instagram post, talking about death and her history with suicidal thoughts. Though it was removed from her page, screenshots of the post were circulated on social media.

“May this day bring me rest and peace,” the post stated. “I have fought this urge since my early teenage years.. I gave this life all the fight I had. To everyone who has entered my life I’m so grateful and I can only imagine how this may find you. I have been surrounded by people who may have honestly thought that I was okay, but I havnt been okay for a while.”

The post also referenced her struggles over the past year with Covid-19, tearing her ACL and failing her classes. 

“I have written so many suicide notes in my life but finally, I’ve reached my end,” the post said.

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

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

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

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

Miller’s death comes amid a rash of student-athlete suicides that have cast a spotlight on pressures students face academically, mentally and physically.

Since the beginning of March, three high-profile college student-athletes have died by suicide across the United States: Katie Meyer, a star goalkeeper on Stanford’s soccer team; Sarah Shulze, a top runner for the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Lauren Bernett, a standout softball player for James Madison University. 

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

The family of Shulze, 21, said in a statement on April 15: “Balancing athletics, academics and the demands of every day 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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