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Ormsby Explains Suicide Attempt : Feeling of Failure Cited for Runner's Leap at NCAA Meet

December 22, 1986| From United Press International

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina State distance runner Kathy Ormsby, who attempted suicide during a championship race in June, said Sunday that she leaped from the bridge because she felt she was failing her coach and parents.

"When I really first knew I needed to do an article was when I couldn't get it out of my mind," Ormsby, 22, told the Charlotte, N.C., Observer. "It was kind of, like, haunting me. And then I felt I needed to explain things."

Ormsby's headfirst leap from a bridge left her paralyzed from the waist down. In an emergency room in Indianapolis, the site of the race, Ormsby said she heard a doctor or nurse say she jumped because she was not winning the race.

"I wanted to pull the respirator off and say, 'No, no, that's not what happened,' " said Ormsby, who now lives at home with her parents in Rockingham.

Ormsby recalled that about halfway through the June 4 women's 10,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship, her running suddenly became labored.

A 5-foot 5-inch, 103-pound junior who had set a college record in the event five weeks earlier, Ormsby had been in a group leading the race. She said the group began to pull away. Although she was running hard, she felt she was hardly moving.

"In my eyes, I saw what was happening as failing God," she told the Observer. "I felt like I was failing my coach and my parents and I thought there was something wrong with me.

"All of a sudden . . . I just felt like something snapped inside of me. And I was really angry. And I felt like it was so unfair. All of a sudden, I didn't feel like this was me because I didn't usually have reactions like that."

She ran another lap before leaving the track, then ran across a field and climbed a 7-foot chain-link fence.

"I know that when I went off I was headed down headfirst," she told the paper. "But I also know that part of me, the part that was me, remembers apologizing to God and saying I'm sorry. Because it was like I was watching everything that was happening and I couldn't stop."

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