Army soldier, social media influencer mourned after killing herself days after daughter’s 12th birthday

Social media is mourning the loss of US Army Staff Sgt. Michelle Young, an Instagram fitness and fashion influencer who tragically killed herself just days after her daughter’s twelfth birthday.

“I write this today with a heavy heart,” friend Sarah Maine wrote on GoFundMe. “Our good friend and athlete Michelle was taken from us by suicide.”

“Michelle was a beautiful soul, an amazing friend, a single mother, a soldier, and is proof you never know what someone is going through or what demons they may be fighting,” Maine said. “We will never fill the gaps in our hearts and will always be left with questions why.”

“Michelle is survived by her daughter Gracie, who was her whole world,” she continued. “NOTHING can replace her mother, but the purpose of this is to help her daughter Gracie with anything she may need. We know Michelle would appreciate us all looking out for her now.”

Michelle Young with daughter, Gracie (via Instagram)

According to the Daily Mail, Young, 34, “enlisted in the Army at 17 years old.”

The Prescott, Arizona, resident “returned from her first deployment seven years later, soon after her daughter’s second birthday,” the outlet reports.

The soldier had served two tours in Afghanistan and, in 2021, extended her military contract to serve 20 years.

“I was in the military before I became a mother,” Young told her more than 100,000 Instagram followers. “I volunteered for this life, she didn’t. She’s had to be away from her only parent during multiple deployments, TDYs, and training, yet she never complains.”

“When I became a mother it was the happiest and simultaneously the most terrifying moment of my life,” she wrote in February of last year. I was absolutely terrified to fail, but knew failure wasn’t an option.”

“I became a single mother when my daughter was one and I knew then I didn’t care if I had to work twice as hard, love twice as hard, and be twice as fun,” she said. “I was going to give my daughter the childhood she (and every child) deserves. I’d play both roles of a parent, I’d teach her the lessons from the viewpoint of a mother and a father, and I’d even make sure she could roll her eyes at corny dad jokes.”

“She would grow up with everything children with two parents have,” Young vowed. “I can’t say ‘we did it’ because parenting is a journey that doesn’t end, but I’d say we’re doing exactly how I had prayed we’d be doing when I envisioned our future. Our life is full of happiness, love, adventure, and gratitude for everyone that is a part of our tribe.”

Just four days before taking her own life, Young posted a birthday message to Gracie.

“Happy birthday to the sweetest girl I’ve ever known,” she wrote. “She’s a force to be reckoned with, she’s witty, ambitious, kind, compassionate, intelligent, hardworking, hilarious, and selfless.”

“I cried the entire time I made this,” Young confessed. “I love you forever, kiddo. The best part about my life is being your momma.”

Michelle and Gracie (via Instagram)

Tributes to Young poured in on Instagram and X.

“I am absolutely heartbroken,” one user wrote on Instagram. “I always enjoyed connecting with you. You were a kind & beautiful person and I hope you found the peace you were looking for.”

“My heart breaks for your daughter and your family,” wrote another follower. “I hope you are finally resting peacefully, and I’m so sorry we as a veteran community were unable to help in time. Beyond sorry.”

On X, the sad sentiment was echoed.

“This saddens me,” wrote the Crisis Action Team. “The epidemic of suicides among my fellow veterans and military members a stain upon our nation. Pray for her and all of them America.”

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

Melissa Fine

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