Road To The Olympic Games

Former U.S. pairs skating champion John Coughlin dies at 33

John Coughlin, a two-time U.S. pairs champion recently suspended from figure skating, died by suicide in Kansas City, Mo. He was 33.

American was recently suspended for 'unspecified conduct'

American figure skater John Coughlin died on Saturday at age 33. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

John Coughlin, a two-time U.S. pairs champion recently suspended from figure skating, died by suicide in Kansas City, Missouri. He was 33.

U.S. Figure Skating released a statement Saturday and cited his sister, Angela Laune. The sister said in a Facebook post that her "wonderful, strong, amazingly compassionate brother John Coughlin took his own life. ... I have no words." There were no further details from her.

The Kansas City Police Department said in an email Saturday that officers responded to a call of a suicide at a house in the Country Lanes Estates neighbourhood in Kansas City just before 5 p.m. Friday and found Coughlin's body. Sgt. Jacob Becchina declined to give specifics on the death.

Coughlin received an interim suspension from the U.S. Center for SafeSport and USFS on Thursday for unspecified conduct. He was barred from any activities sanctioned by the skating body or the U.S. Olympic Committee.

USA Today first reported the death.

USFS said it was "stunned' by the news and extended "heartfelt and deepest sympathies" to the family. The organization said it would have no further comment "until a later time."

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje spoke about Coughlin after winning the Canadian ice dance title Saturday night. Poje had been friends with Coughlin since they were kids.

"We've been on the circuit for so long, and we've grown up with John, I've shared special moments with him, and it's sad when you lose someone who you have good, fond memories with," Poje said.

Retired pairs skater Dylan Moscovitch, from Toronto, had fond memories of Coughlin, who he had competed against since 2008. Moscovitch heard the news Friday night in Saint John, N.B., where he's working with the broadcast crew at the Canadian figure skating championships.

"It's still sinking in," Moscovitch said. "The way I knew John, he was such a nice guy, just a really warm, friendly guy, always smiling, hell of an athlete, worked really hard. He knew how to have fun, he knew how to joke around, he could put people at ease, and he adored figure skating, and he was developing quite a successful career as a commentator and coach."

"He was just a friendly face, who was always around."

The International Skating Union also said it was "shocked" and offered "kindest thoughts" in this "time of sorrow." Coughlin was chair of the ISU athletes commission and a member of a technical committee."

Coughlin won national pairs championships with two partners. He teamed with Caitlin Yankowskas in 2011 and with Caydee Denney the next year.


Where to get help:

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (Phone) | 45645 (Text) | crisisservicescanada.ca (Chat)

In Quebec: Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre


If you're worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them about it, says the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

Here are some warning signs: 

Suicidal thoughts.
Substance abuse.
Purposelessness.
Anxiety.
Feeling trapped.
Hopelessness and helplessness.
Withdrawal.
Anger.
Recklessness.
Mood changes.

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