Content warning: This story contains subject matter on suicide.
After battling with mental illness for seven years, Maddy Murphy, an athlete, friend and daughter took her own life on Sept. 12. Now, her friends and family are sharing her story, in hopes of raising awareness around mental illness and suicide prevention.
Murphy, a Quispamsis native, was in the hospital for four days before she passed away on Sept. 16 at the age of 21.
One of her friends, St. Thomas University women’s hockey team member Danielle Ring, met Murphy when she was 16 when her younger sister became friends. They would travel together for hockey games and would eventually play on the same ball hockey team.
“Maddy [Murphy] was the type of kid that brought light in the room, if you were having a bad day Maddy would turn that into your best day, she would try everything and anything to make you and whoever in that room to feel happy,” said Ring.
“Everything I do from here on out whether you’re just living life, it is for her because she was close to all of our hearts. So, at the end of the day it’s ‘Do it for Maddy.’”
On Oct. 11, Ring and her teammates held a game in Murphy’s memory. Ring, with the help of STU women’s hockey head coach Peter Murphy, put together a photo tribute and played a game in her honour.
“My point for that game was for Maddy [Murphy] but also for the awareness of athletes who do struggle with mental illness,” Ring said.
Murphy’s father, Mike Murphy, also worked hard to get her story out. He created hashtags for people to use on social media when talking about Murphy, like #DoItForMaddy, #MM81 and #YOUmatter.
Murphy’s father also created a Maddy Murphy Memorial Fund to raise awareness and help people who are struggling with their mental health.
Murphy talked to her therapist regularly, but in the end, her father said it wasn’t enough.
Getting her story out
Murphy grew up in Quispamsis, N.B. She loved playing hockey, soccer and rugby. She went to university just outside of her home town, at the University of New Brunswick Saint John. Murphy started battling with her depression and anxiety at the age of 14. She was also diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder.
Ring said there’s not enough awareness around suicide prevention. By telling Murphy’s story, Ring hopes more people will realize that struggling with mental illness is common. Others who are struggling will be able to see the support Murphy had.
“Someone can be super happy all the time. But I think it’s very important to always
check up on them. Like you don’t know what anybody’s going through and always spend time
with [your] loved ones and just hug them, and just love,” said Ring.
Bailey O’Regan, a fourth-year student at STU was one of Murphy’s best friends. O’Regan first met Murphy in Grade 10 when they attended Rothesay Netherwood High School. O’Regan said they “just clicked.”
“Do it for Maddy [Murphy] is an initiative to get her story out,” said O’Regan.
“It’s awesome that we’re getting her story out there, but she was more than just an article,” O’Regan said.
“At the end of the day, we know that there’s good that can come out of a tragedy and maybe somebody is going to see this and go get help or talk to somebody, whether it’s a counsellor, therapist, psychologist, [or] a friend, that’s what this is all about.”
O’Regan remembers working at the aquatic driving range with Maddy Murphy and they had to use boats to get the golf balls out of the water.
“I was trying to let her out of the boat onto the shore and she slipped and fell in the water, she was okay, but I just remember losing it laughing. Then of course, she started to laugh, and we just had a really good time.”
Mike, Murphy’s father, said he received a letter after her passing sent to him by a mother of one of Murphy’s friends. It said she helped her daughter when she was nervous to play hockey.
“I just found out that my kid was the first one to come over and say you know ‘Hey come on the ice with us’ she helped her out that way,” said Mike.
“She was quite the little girl; she touched a lot of people and I just wish we could have done more and get her out of that dark hole.”
Mike wants other parents to talk with their children and make sure they’re doing okay, because sometimes all it takes is one slip up.
“We’re trying to help and we just want to make sure that it doesn’t happen to another set of parents or to another child out there who’s thinking about taking their life.”
If you’re in a crisis or need to talk to someone, you can call Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645.