April 19, 2016

Sophie MacLeod ’14 Dies After Battle With Depression

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Sophie MacLeod ’14 died the weekend of March 25 from a prescription drug overdose while on medical leave from Cornell after a long battle with depression. She was 23.

“Many of you will remember Sophie as a vibrant young artist, a talented violinist, and a young woman with a unique global background and perspective,” said Dean Kent Kleinman in an email sent to students and faculty in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning. “We mark her untimely passing with sorrow.”

The daughter of American foreign correspondents, MacLeod was born in Johannesburg and lived in South Africa and France before attending high school at Cairo American College in Egypt, where she was a member of the national honor society, sang in the choir and played violin in the orchestra, according to her father Scott MacLeod.

At Cornell, MacLeod studied Fine Arts in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning and brought a unique perspective to her studies, according to the email.

In addition to her studies at Cornell, Sophie also worked at the dessert bar at Madeline’s restaurant for a year and a half and at Argos Inn, where she was affectionately known as “the chemist” for her “craft cocktail concoctions,” according to MacLeod.

Rachel Donohue, a high school friend of MacLeod remembers how passionate MacLeod was.

“One of the biggest characteristics I really loved about her was how passionate she could get in how much she loved her friends or her family or even greek yogurt,” Donohue said.

Donohue remembers specifically how much MacLeod loved baking.

“It was artwork when she baked anything. Everything looked like it should come out of a magazine,” she said.

Aliana Heffernan ’14, said that after meeting MacLeod when they lived together in Risley Hall, MacLeod’s became one of her best friends.

“She had such a creative mind, from her photography to her cooking,” Heffernan said. “Sophie just had a certain way of seeing things. She also had the weirdest sense of humor, but she could always crack me up even if I was absolutely miserable. Her creativity and her off-color humor, that’s what I’ll miss most.”

Her father added that most of her friends believed Sophie would succeed in her battle with depression.

“It was a struggle she was determined to win, and nobody around her doubted that she would do so,” he said. “She touched the hearts of everyone in her intersecting circles of friends, mentors and family members, who she loved dearly and who so dearly loved her.”

The MacLeod family has established The Sophie Fund under the umbrella of the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, which will help support the fight against mental illness in young people, according to the fund’s website.

Her father said Sophie will be remembered for her many wonderful qualities including her “sweet smile” and her “unwavering attachment to friends.”

“Much much too short, Sophie’s was a wonderful life,” her father said.

University Resources: Members of the Cornell community seeking spport can called Gannett Health Services’ Counseling and Psychological Services (607-255-3277), the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (607-255-2673), the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or find additional resources at caringcommunity.cornell.edu.