Lauren Bernett: James Madison University cancels remainder of softball season after student athlete’s death is ruled suicide

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James Madison University said it will cancel the remainder of its softball season as the death of student athlete Lauren Bernett was ruled a suicide.

Bernett, 20, played a major role in the 2021 Womenโ€™s College World Series.

She died April 25 and the Western District Medical Examinerโ€™s Office in Virginia told CNN Tuesday she died by suicide.

โ€œThis was an extremely difficult decision and one that was not made lightly,โ€ JMU head coach Loren LaPorte said in a Monday statement about canceling the rest of the season. โ€œWe will use this time to continue healing and to honor Laurenโ€™s memory while finishing the academic semester strong.โ€

Bernett was a sophomore who planned on majoring in biology with a minor in pre-vet, her JMU bio said.

The catcher had just been named โ€œPlayer of the Weekโ€ by the Colonial Athletic Association.

Last season, Bernett and her teammates shined when they made national headlines with the Dukesโ€™ unexpected, first-ever run to the Womenโ€™s College World Series national semifinals. JMU finished its best-ever season with a 41-4 record.

Following Bernettโ€™s death, five games were canceled, including a doubleheader at Longwood University and a weekend series with Delaware, according to the statement.

The remaining game cancellations included a contest against Virginia Tuesday and a three-game league series against Elon May 6 and 7.

LaPorte acknowledged the impact the cancellation may have on graduating students โ€œwhose careers have come to an abrupt conclusion,โ€ vowing the university will ensure theyโ€™re also honored for their contributions to JMU as student athletes.

โ€œJMU concludes its season at 21-21 overall and 10-5 in conference play,โ€ the statement said.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is also a crisis text line. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

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