Daisy Coleman, an activist, artist, and subject of the Netflix documentary Audrie & Daisy, has died by suicide at 23. Her mother, Melinda Coleman, confirmed on Facebook that the her daughter passed away on Tuesday night.
"She was my best friend and amazing daughter,” Melinda Coleman wrote in a Facebook post just after midnight on the morning of Wednesday, August 5. “I wish I could have taken the pain from her.”
Audrie & Daisy, which came out in 2016, detailed multiple rape cases. In the documentary, Coleman described being sexually assaulted at 14 years old by Matthew Barnett, then a high school senior in her hometown of Maryville, MO. Barnett was initially charged with felony sexual assault, but the charges were later dropped. Ultimately he pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child. Some say that Barnett’s grandfather, who was a former state legislator, was able to help protect his grandson from being convicted, The Washington Post reports.
The documentary also detailed the abuse, bullying, and online hate Coleman faced after coming forward. “People really were verbally attacking me,” she says in the film. “A lot of people would say things like calling me a liar.” Coleman’s family was also scrutinized nationally.
Coleman went on to become an advocate for other sexual assault victims, co-founding the organization SafeBAE, which worked to end sexual assault toward young people and to offer resources to survivors.
As press are beginning to reach out, we wanted to release a statement so that we can all remember her for the legacy of her work: "Through our shock and sadness, we are releasing a statement about our loss of Daisy.— SafeBAE (@safe_bae) August 5, 2020
In a statement about Coleman's death, SafeBAE said: “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. We are shattered and shocked by her passing from suicide."
It continued: “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 any easy one. She fought longer and harder than we will ever know. But we want to be mindful of all the young survivors who looked up to her. Please know that above ALL ELSE, she did this work for you... She would want young survivors to know they are heard, they matter, they are loved, and there are places for them to get the help they need.”
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).