Potential disciplinary action from Stanford may have contributed to Katie Meyer’s ’22 death, her parents say

March 4, 2022, 3:59 p.m.

Content warning: this story contains references to self harm and suicide. If you or someone you know is at risk, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. Additional resources are available here.

Katie Meyer ’22 was potentially facing disciplinary action from Stanford regarding an incident in which she was defending her teammate, her parents Gina and Steven Meyer told NBC News in a Friday interview on TODAY. They suggested that this may have contributed to Katie’s death.

The Stanford community has been mourning the loss of the student and women’s soccer goalkeeper since she was found dead in an undergraduate residence on Tuesday. Gina confirmed during the interview that Katie died by suicide.

“The last couple days are like a parent’s worst nightmare and you don’t wake up from it. So it’s just horrific,” Gina said during the interview. 

In a Wednesday statement to the community, University administrators described Meyer as “a bright shining light for so many on the field and in our community” who was “extraordinarily committed to everything and everyone in her world.”

Gina said that she and Steven are “still in shock” and “had no red flags.” The couple spoke to Katie via FaceTime hours before her death, they said. Gina described Katie as being “excited” during the call. 

“She had a lot on her plate. She had a lot going on,” she said. “But she was happy. She was in great spirits.” Steven added that she was “just the usual jovial Katie.”

The couple told NBC that they believe Katie received an email from the University prior to her death regarding potential disciplinary action for “defending a teammate on campus over an incident,” Steven said. 

Though Gina said she and Steven have not yet seen the email, she recounted Katie receiving letters regarding the incident for a couple of months. “This letter was kind of the final letter that there was going to be a trial or some kind of something,” she said. “This is the only thing that we can come up with that triggered something.”

University spokesperson Dee Mostofi wrote in a statement to The Daily that the University is not able to share information about confidential student disciplinary matters. The University declined to confirm whether Katie received an email before her death regarding the disciplinary action and whether it would move on to a “trial.”

“Our entire community is devastated by Katie’s death, and we share our deepest condolences with Katie’s family and everyone who knew her at Stanford, across the country and around the world. Katie touched so many lives,” Mostofi wrote. “We as a university community continue to grieve with Katie’s family and cherish our memories of her.”

NBC reported that Katie’s parents wondered if “the combined pressure of school and sports was too much for their daughter.” Meyer was a team captain for the Stanford women’s soccer team and a resident assistant for Crothers Hall. She was named to the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll in both of her full seasons with the team and led Stanford to its third NCAA women’s soccer title in 2019.

“There is anxiety and there is stress to be perfect, to be the best, to be No. 1,” Gina said.

Katie’s family hopes to “start a conversation about opening up communication between parents and college administrators,” according to NBC. Because parents often are not alerted about what is happening with their children who are legally considered adults at the age of 18, NBC reported that Gina and Steven “feel they missed a chance to potentially save their daughter if they only knew about what she was going through.”

Gina wore Katie’s cardinal red sweatshirt during the interview — the sweatshirt that Katie wore in a Tik Tok post just last week. 

“When you smell it, it smells her, it smells like Katie, just her scent,” Gina told NBC, with tears streaming down her face. “I’m wearing it because it just feels — I want to be close to her.”

Friends of the Meyer family have started a gofundme in memory of Katie and to assist the family with funeral expenses. As of Friday afternoon, the fund had raised over $159,000. 

“We’re just — we’re struggling right now,” Gina said. “We are struggling to know what happened, and why it happened. We’re just heartbroken, so heartbroken.” 

​​Support is available for students through Stanford’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) 24/7 at (650) 723-3785. The Graduate Life Office (GLO) is available 24/7 via the Stanford operator at (650) 723-7288, pager 25085 and during office hours at (650) 736-7078. The Bridge Peer Counseling Center offers counseling by trained students 24/7 at (650) 723-3392. The Faculty Staff Help Center, located in Kingscote Gardens, offers confidential help for Stanford faculty and staff.

Malaysia Atwater '23 is a senior staff writer and former Vol. 260/261 managing editor in the News section. She is a political science major from Centennial, Colorado, and she enjoys dancing and re-watching Grey's Anatomy in her free time. Contact her at matwater 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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