News | Trending

U.S. Figure Skating Champion Found Dead In Apparent Suicide

Getty Images

The figure skating world lost one of its prominent skaters, coaches, and TV announcers with the sudden death of John Coughlin.

The 33-year-old two-time champion unfortunately took his own life on January 18, according to a statement released by his family via Fireworks Sports Marketing.

"We are devastated by the untimely passing of our beloved son and brother, John Coughlin. John was a true champion on and off the ice, devoted to his family and passionate about his life in skating.

We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of warm thoughts and prayers from the international athletic community and deeply touched by the love that John would have been so proud to have felt. John was the definition of compassionate friend, competitive athlete, and enthusiastic performer.

We have only the fondest of memories of a life well lived and send him our love and prayers, finding some solace in the knowledge that he is now reunited with his loving mother. We will announce details about service arrangements in the near future."

While no details about what led to Coughlin's death have been revealed, he's had a difficult few weeks that culminated in him getting suspended from figure skating by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, an organization that has "exclusive jurisdiction over sexual misconduct" across multiple sports, just a day before his passing.

This temporary suspension, which prohibited him from participating "in any capacity, in any activity or competition," meant that he would not have been able to work as a commentator during the national championships, which is slated to take place in Detroit next week.

Coughlin was reportedly under investigation after three reports of sexual misconduct were filed against him, two of which allegedly involved minors.

John Coughlin and Caydee Denney competing
Getty Images

The late athlete vehemently denied all the allegations against him, and in a recent statement, he said he wished he "could speak freely about the unfounded allegations."

"I note only that the SafeSport notice of allegation itself stated that an allegation in no way constitutes a finding by SafeSport or that there is any merit to the allegation," he added.

After receiving the "most numbing, devastating, and heartbreaking call," Coughlin's former coach Dalilah Sappenfield set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the Kansas native's funeral expenses.

"Words on social media can be just as powerful as a bullet. Unfortunately, the accusations that were made public before no distinguishing factors about what’s actually being investigated led to so much misinformation being spread around,” Sappenfield wrote on the page. "For John this was too much. He wanted to be heard but couldn’t be and wasn’t allowed to be. It’s with such heavy heart that we will be saying goodbye to this amazingly kind soul."

In addition to winning the U.S. Pairs Championship twice, Coughlin placed sixth and eighth at the 2011 and 2012 world championships, respectively. Prior to his death, he was was working with both U.S. Figure Skating and the International Skating Union.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Coughlin's family, teammates, and colleagues during this extremely difficult time.

[H/T: People, USA Today]

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.