Rosalie, Ashantay & Other Children Of Color Who Committed Suicide Because Of Bullying
When it comes to children of color, the racial divide among suicide rates have tragically increased.
Studies from the American Association of Suicidology show more adolescent black males have killed themselves. A total of 36.8 percent of black children make up the 11.6 percent group of lives lost, with suicide rates between the ages of 5 to 11 doubling in the past 20 years.
Girls of color are less likely to commit suicide, but the stories of Ashawnty Davis and Rosalie Avila have proved otherwise. The girls passed away within weeks of each other; Davis, 10 died by hanging on Nov. 29, while it is unknown how Avalia took her life. Her parents said their official goodbye on Dec. 4.
But what links the precious girls aren’t their suicides– both children were victims of bullying. Davis’ family explained the fifth-grader fell into a depression after a fight with a classmate was uploaded to the app Musical.ly. Avalia kept a journal, where she shared harrowing details about her tormentors and their jokes about her features. ” ‘They told me I was ugly today,’ ” her father Freddie recalled reading to CBS News earlier this month. ” ‘They were making fun of me today about my teeth.’ “
With social media controlling viral content, Keaton Jones’ bullying story dominated various channels over the weekend when his mother Kimberly Jones recorded her son recalling the moments he was teased in school. Like wildfire, the post caught the attention of millions, while GoFundMe pages for Ashawnty and Rosalie went unnoticed.
After it was revealed that everything wasn’t what it seemed with Keaton’s mother, those who followed the stories of Ashawnty and Rosalie were somewhat vindicated as the girls finally found their stories in the public conversation.
The elements of bullying and suicide are twofold, creating conversations about prevention and peanut gallery-like chatter related to the “weakening” of children of color. With trauma in and out the home adding to motives behind suicide, awareness is needed now more than ever.
The stories Ashawnty and Rosalie prove this, as well as more children of color who decided to end their lives when support never arrived.
Markeice “Mari” Brown and Mercedes “Shaday” Smith (18-year-olds)
Just days after Mercedes Smith committed suicide, her longtime boyfriend Markeice Brown did the same after he was bullied online and blamed for his girlfriend’s death. The Ohio natives died in April, with Smith pregnant with her first child. The teen was found unresponsive at her dorm at Lindsey Wilson College, where she studied communication and was a member of the track and field team.
Reports indicate Smith suffered from depression which led to her suicide. After Smith’s passing, Brown was struck with grief and posted to Facebook his shock of her death. “Today I lost my wife I should say I lost my life, can’t put in words how I feel, we just talked last night why you ain’t tell me?” he said in a Facebook post. “Even tho we knew we ain’t have nobody we knew we had each other, you was really a reflection of me you knew how I felt knew when I was feeling and you though it was crazy how I knew something was wrong even when you would fake a smile , it feels like my life just ended it we just talked Tho why you ain’t say nothing man why????”
Before ending his life, Brown posted a video crying and saying his goodbyes to his family. “I don’t know what else to say. I’m trying to get all my words out before I go,” he said in a Facebook live video. “I can’t do this no more, brah. I tried. Everybody knew I loved Mercedes, brah. Y’all sound dumb if y’all think I didn’t.”
Gabriel Taye (8 years-old)
The Cincinnati native hung himself with a necktie on Jan. 26 after a bullying incident at his school. His mother, Cornelia Reynolds, was unaware of the bullying because the school allegedly covered up the incident. Surveillance footage from Carson Elementary School dated on Jan. 24 showed a presumably older child walking up to Taye and knocking him unconscious. Reynolds claims she was told her son fainted at school and that she should take him to the hospital to get checked out. It wasn’t until the footage was made public that Reynolds and other parents discovered that their children were bullied.
Investigators began to notice the conflicting accounts after speaking to administrators at the school. The investigation into Taye’s death is closed, but Reynolds filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school. “I am my son’s voice and it will be heard,” Reynolds said in a statement. “As Gabe’s mother, it is my obligation to make sure that this will never happen again.”
Naika Venant (14 years-old)
As people watched on Facebook Live, Nakia Venant turned her headscarf into a noose and used it to hang herself from a shower stall. The 14-year-old was living at a foster home in Miami, after years of conflict between her mother Gina Caze. Comments on the stream were divided as some believed her suicide was a stunt, others were pleading for her to reconsider and several bullying her into going through with it.
One comment that caught the attention of investigators was reportedly linked to her mother. “#ADHD games played u sad little DCF custody jit that’s why u where u at for this dumb sh*t n more u keep crying wolf u dead u will get buried life goes on after a jit that doesn’t listen to there parents trying to be grown seeking boys and girls attention instead of her books,” the post read by a woman named Gina Alexis, believed to be her mother.
Caze has denied being online at the time of her daughter’s hanging, but did believe that it could’ve been a stunt. She also expressed to the Miami Herald that Nakia’s constant movements in the system caused her to become disrespectful and rebellious.
Nakia spent a total of three stints in foster care after being placed in 14 different foster homes. There were several reported incidents between her and her mother, with failed interventions from case workers. In the months leading up to her suicide, Nakia pleased with her mother to find common ground. “Naika often reported that she missed her mother greatly and really wanted to go back home,” timeline documents from the agency reported. “Naika reported that she was feeling a bit sad because her mother didn’t want her back, and wanted her to age out of the foster care system.”
“I just felt like they switched up the morals and values I put in place raising my daughter,” Alexis said about her situation. “My daughter went back and forth in the system and used that to manipulate me. She knew that, as a parent, I could not hit my child anymore. She came back and knew Mommy can’t get a belt. She knew that.”
FDCF Secretary Mike Carroll released a statement about the teen and his disappointment that the agency couldn’t save her.
“There is little we can say that adequately describes the sorrow we still feel today from the loss of Naika,” Carroll said in the statement. “It is even more exacerbated by the information that was learned during the course of the [agency’s] investigation — that this is a child who endured great trauma in her life and despite many service interventions, we were not able to put the pieces back together to prevent her from taking her own life in such a public forum.”