Madison Holleran
Madison Holleran with her father James.Instagram

James Holleran gave an emotional speech at the funeral of his daughter Madison Holleran on Monday, urging the gathering to "be strong for Madison".

The 19-year-old track star from University of Pennsylvania committed suicide in Philadelphia on 17 January by jumping off a parking garage. Her father linked her tragic death to the stress of keeping up with school work.

"Now is a time to be strong," Daily Mail quoted James as saying to a 600-odd gathering, consisting of friends and relatives of the deceased. "Today, we all have to be strong for Madison." 

"Please seek therapy if you need it. This is not a weakness, but a struggle," he went on to say. "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

According to, Madison Holleran's older sister Ashley also spoke at the funeral service, describing her as "the best snuggle buddy I could have asked for."

"Even though she was my little sister I looked up to her as a mentor," Ashley was quoted as saying. "I only wish I could have flown up to her at UPenn and helped her."

James had earlier told New York Post that his daughter was deeply worried about academics and he tried to help solve her issues.

"My daughter's stress was self induced, and although we had started her in therapy to address her issues, she hid the severity of those issues from everyone," he told the daily. "We knew she needed help. She knew she needed help. She had lost confidence in academics and she also lost confidence in her track abilities."

Madison Holleran left a note for her parents and gifts for her family before taking the extreme step on Friday.