Sexual assault survivor and activist Daisy Coleman died by suicide at age 23 on Tuesday, August 4, according to a Facebook post shared by mom Melinda Coleman. The parent paid tribute to her daughter and claimed the star of Netflix’s Audrie & Daisy documentary “never recovered” after her rape.
“My daughter Catherine Daisy Coleman committed suicide tonight,” Coleman’s mother wrote. “If you saw crazy messages and posts it was because I called the police to check on her. She was my best friend and amazing daughter. I think she had to make it seem like I could live without her. I can’t. I wish I could have taken the pain from her! She never recovered from what those boys did to her and it’s just not fair. My baby girl is gone.”
In an additional post, she continued, “She was so brave, but she was tired and scared.”
Coleman shared her story in a documentary about sexual assault in 2016.
Audrie & Daisy attempted to raise awareness about sexual assault and the devastating effects it can have on survivors’ lives as it told Coleman’s story as well as the story of another teen named Audrie Pott, who died by suicide in 2012 just days after her own alleged assault. In the film, Coleman claimed she was assaulted in 2012 at the age of 14 by another teen named Matthew Barnett. A freshman in high school, she and a friend snuck out to party with a group of boys. The teen claims she blacked out and was assaulted by Barnett, who was 17 at the time.
The older boy was initially charged with felony sexual assault. Though the alleged rape was filmed on a smartphone by another boy at the party, Barnett claimed the intercourse was consensual and charges were later dropped. Time reported he pleaded guilty in 2014 to endangering the welfare of a child after he admitted to leaving Coleman on the front lawn of her family home in freezing temperatures while she “was incapable of protecting or caring for herself” following the assault.
Coleman was harassed for reporting her alleged rape.
After speaking to the police, Coleman shared she was the victim of further harassment and discrimination. ABC reported she was suspended from her cheerleading team after admitting to drinking and was bullied at school and online. “The stuff on Facebook and Twitter was just unbelievable, so horrible … saying stuff like, ‘Why don’t you slit your wrists,'” Coleman’s mom told 20/20.
She attempted suicide several times.
ABC reported in 2014 that Coleman’s mother claimed on Facebook the teen was “terrorized to the point” that she attempted to take her life. Family friend Robin Bourland later confirmed the news to The Kansas City Star. “It’s been heartbreaking for them,” Bourland said, revealing the incident stemmed from further online harassment. “This has been a really long, drawn-out battle, and it’s heartbreaking to see something like this happening.”
Coleman went on to found an organization called SafeBAE.
According to its Facebook page, SafeBAE is a “survivor-founded, youth-led organization whose mission is to raise awareness about sexual assault in middle/high schools [and] the rights of students.” Coleman founded the organization with fellow teen sexual-assault survivors Ella Fairon and Jada Smith with the help of Shael Norris and Coleman’s brother, Charlie Coleman.
“As all of our supporters know, Daisy has fought for many years to both heal from her assault and prevent future sexual violence among teens. She was our sister in this work and much of the driving force behind it. We were not just a non-profit team, but a family,” SafeBAE shared in a statement following her death. “We are shattered and shocked by her passing from suicide. She had been in EMDR therapy for two years, working on her triggers and healing from the many traumas in her life. She had many coping demons and had been facing and overcoming them all, but as many of you know, healing is not a straight path or [an] easy one. She fought longer and harder than we will ever know.”
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
If you or anyone you know has been sexually abused, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member will provide confidential, judgment-free support as well as local resources to assist in healing, recovering and more.
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