A U.S. Army soldier and fitness influencer has died by suicide just days after her daughter’s 12th birthday.
On January 20, friends of Staff Sergeant Michelle Young, 34, shared the news that she had taken her own life. Days earlier, Young shared a post celebrating her daughter Gracie’s birthday with her audience of over 100,000 followers.
‘Happy birthday to the sweetest girl I’ve ever known,’ Young 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. I love you forever, kiddo. The best part about my life is being your momma.’
Her death has led to an outpouring of tributes from friends online and on her social media pages.
‘Michelle was always so kind to me. We talked often about our daughters and how similar they are,’ friend Brianna Hasan wrote. ‘I know she loved Gracie more than anything. I cannot believe this happened.’
U.S. Army soldier and influencer Michelle Young, 34, died by suicide just days after her daughter’s 12th birthday
Young was a staff sergeant who served two tours in Afghanistan. She enlisted in the Army at 17, returning home at 24, soon after her daughter’s second birthday
Friends remembered Young as a doting single mother to 12-year-old Gracie
The Prescott, Arizona, resident enlisted in the Army at 17 years old. She returned from her first deployment seven years later, soon after her daughter’s second birthday.
‘I was in the military before I became a mother,’ Young wrote on Instagram. ‘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.’
In October, Young posted a series of photos where she and Gracie – both doting Chiefs fans – dressed up as Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift.
The 34-year-old served two tours in Afghanistan, most recently in 2021. That same year, she extended her military contract to serve 20 years. As of September, she had served 16.
In her free time, Young worked as a crisis and trauma response volunteer while also volunteering at a local women’s and children’s homeless shelter. In one post, she explained that her passion for service was sparked by her own brother’s suicide.
‘That day forever changed my life, but it also created a passion for helping others that I don’t think I would have had if I didn’t experience the pain of losing him,’ Young explained.
Military values ran deep in her family. The soldier often spoke of her grandfather, a Navy veteran who served in WWII.
‘Growing up the thought of joining the military never crossed my mind,’ the 34-year-old wrote, adding that the only person she knew who had served at the time of her enlistment was her grandfather. ‘I didn’t know any women that were in the military.’
The soldier boasted over 100,000 Instagram followers, where she frequently shared photos of her vacations abroad
The 34-year-old served two tours in Afghanistan, most recently in 2021. That same year, she extended her military contract to serve 20 years. As of September, she had served 16
In her free time, Young volunteered at a local homeless shelter and worked as a crisis and trauma response volunteer
The 34-year-old was also a model for Curves N Combatboots, a veteran-owned activewear brand
The mother-of-one lost her own brother to suicide, sparking a passion for helping others
Sarah Maine, the COO of veteran-owned activewear brand Curves N Combatboots, broke the news of Young’s death through a GoFundMe campaign.
‘Our good friend and athlete Michelle was taken from us by suicide,’ she wrote.
‘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.’
Young’s daughter, Maine explained, ‘was her whole world,’ and the campaign was organized to help Gracie ‘with anything she may need. We know Michelle would appreciate us all looking out for her now.’
It’s unclear how or where Young took her life.
Friends left comments under the campaign to commemorate Young’s life.
‘Michelle was an angel when I needed it, and I never got to repay her for her kindness on this earthly world. So I’ll do it for her daughter,’ Nicole Jimerson wrote.
On Facebook Tatiana Mendes described Young, who was her maid of honor, as her ‘best friend.’
‘I don’t know how I’m ever going to survive without your light in my life,’ Mendes wrote. ‘You have touched so many of our lives. The thought of you not around is unfathomable.’
She added: ‘I promise you I will be there for Gracie forever and always. Rest in peace my sweet angel.’
Young often spoke of her grandfather, a WWII veteran who served in the Navy, writing in one post that he was the only person she knew who had served at the time of her enlistment
In a GoFundMe campaign, one friend remarked that Young’s daughter was ‘her whole world’
She was remembered as ‘a beautiful soul, an amazing friend, a single mother, a soldier’ and ‘proof you never know what someone is going through or what demons they may be fighting’
One friend described Young as ‘an angel when I needed it’ and expressed regret that she ‘never got to repay her for her kindness on this earthly world’
Young’s last Instagram post was dedicated to her daughter on her birthday. ‘The best part about my life is being your momma,’ she wrote
‘I wish you had called old friend,’ a friend wrote, sharing a photo of the duo together. ‘I hope you have found the peace you were looking for.’
Vet Radio Syndicate, a veteran-oriented media channel, remembered Young as ‘a dear friend and a wonderful soul’
Vet Radio Syndicate, a veteran-oriented media channel, remembered Young as ‘a dear friend and a wonderful soul.’
‘We sponsored her in a few of her fitness competitions as well as her coming on and doing shows about recruiting for the Army and National Guard,’ read a social media post.
‘Yesterday she took her own life and the demons won whatever battle she was dealing with….No one knows what drives people over the edge and sometimes those demons just won’t let go.
‘Hand salute young lady, you will be missed.’
Tyr Symank, a fellow soldier and longtime friend of Young, left his own message reflecting on her life.
‘I wish you had called old friend,’ he wrote, sharing a photo of the duo together. ‘I hope you have found the peace you were looking for.’
Symank re-shared to Instagram an illustration of Young with angel wings embracing her daughter.
He captioned the post: ‘At her core, beyond the mental health struggles, the personal dramas, the social media…this is what I knew Michelle to be.’