(Editor’s Note: This article is about mental illness and suicide. If you or a loved one is struggling, you can call 1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-SUICIDE or visit National Alliance on Mental Illness website, NAMI.org.)
On Monday, July 12, Sophie Wieland, a 14-year-old girl from Rice, committed suicide.
Wieland, who played hockey in the Sartell-Sauk Rapids youth hockey system, also played the violin, studying the instrument in the Suzuki method. Wieland has been described as a gentle person with big plans.
In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, Terry Hughes, one of Wieland’s former coaches, turned his grief into action, along with his daughter, Gabbie Hughes. Gabbie is a star forward for the University of Minnesota-Duluth women’s hockey team and has played for the Bulldogs since the 2018-19 season. The Hughes, together with the Wieland family, created Sophie’s Squad, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the mental health of youth-level athletes in college by raising awareness of mental health issues and removing stigma. associated with obtaining help.
Gabbie said it’s critical to constantly get the word out about the importance of getting help to end the stigma of mental illness and prevent suicide.
“There’s not much you can do, but we’ll try to do everything we can to get the word out,” Gabbie said.
Before, during and after the Rogers Women’s Hockey game on November 11 at the Rogers Activity Center, fittingly against Sartell-Sauk Rapids, Sophie’s Squad organized a fundraiser to benefit the organization. Teal merchandise including t-shirts, bracelets and other items were sold in the main lobby of the Rogers Activity Center. Wieland’s father, Henry Wieland, mother, Aimee Wieland, and older sister, Rachel Wieland, along with Terry and Gabbie, came to the center of the rink for a puck handover ceremony to kick off Rogers 2021-22 women’s hockey season. Teal was Sophie’s favorite color.
Rachel said fundraisers like these and the organizational goals of Sophie’s Squad are a step in the right direction to end the stigma associated with getting help with mental illness. Rachel said some of her favorite memories of Sophie include playing hockey and violin together.
Rachel, Sophie and their brother Jacob all played the violin. Sophie’s favorite composer was Antonio Vivaldi, an Italian composer best known for composing “The Four Seasons”, a four-piece ensemble for solo violin and string orchestra that depict the four seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter.
“This [playing the violin] was just a way for her to express herself, ”Rachel said. “She started to be like me and our older brother because we both played. It started out as trying to be like us and it kind of became its own thing. At random times we sort of pull our violins out and play together, which a lot of other siblings can’t.
Sophie’s favorite team was the Minnesota Wild and her favorite hockey player was Finnish center Mikko Koivu, who spent 15 of his 16 NHL seasons with the Wild before playing seven games for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2020-21. Koivu announced his retirement on Tuesday, February 9, and was known for his two-way play as well as his backhand forehand he used in the shootout in dozens of Wild games.
Rachel said Sophie had a major impact on every life she touched in her brief 14 years. Sophie would have been 15 on October 4. Sophie’s plans included getting her bachelor’s degree at age 16 and attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after graduating from high school.
“She was always someone I knew her friends could talk to,” Rachel said. “She has stood up for a lot of people who are bullied at school. Most of all, I hope people know that it’s good to have mental health issues and to talk about them openly. This is something that I hope can come from there.
According to Christa D. Labouliere, Ph.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Columbia University in New York City, a teenager or young adult under the age of 25 dies by suicide about every hour and a half, and for every death. by suicide. , there are 15-25 suicide attempts. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24, accounting for more deaths each year than all natural causes combined.
Terry said Sophie’s squad was going to try to reach everyone, but if they stopped trying because they thought they couldn’t, Sophie’s squad wouldn’t do their due diligence.
“We have to keep moving forward,” said Terry. “We’re going to do six or seven more events like this this winter. We gotta keep the ball rolling, like [Gabbie] noted.”
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