Melinda Coleman, the mother of late activist and sexual assault survivor Daisy Coleman, died by suicide on Sunday nearly four months after her daughter's death. SafeBAE, the sexual assault prevention organization co-founded by Daisy, broke the news of the tragedy in an Instagram post late Sunday night, expressing remorse over her death.
“We are in shock and disbelief to share with our SafeBAE family that we lost Melinda Coleman to suicide this evening," the organization announced. "The bottomless grief of losing her husband, Tristan, and Daisy was more than she could face most days. Melinda was a gifted veterinarian, devoted mother and wife, and talented body builder. More than anything, she loved and believed in her children. It is no accident that she created some of the most gifted, passionate, and resilient children. Our hearts are forever with [her sons] Logan & Charlie.”
Melinda’s death comes only months after her daughter Daisy died by suicide in August at the age of 23. Daisy played a pivotal role in lifting up the voices of other sexual assault survivors since 2012. That year, when Daisy was 14 years old, she described being assaulted by 17-year-old high school student Matthew Barnett in Maryville, MO. The backlash Daisy, as well as the entire Coleman family, faced by their town and neighbors after she came forward with her experience was documented in the 2016 Netflix documentary Audrie & Daisy.
As depicted in the film, Daisy was bullied and harassed online and their family home was burned down. While Barnett, who is the grandson of former Republican state legislator Rex Barnett, was first charged with felony sexual assault, the charges were eventually dropped and he pleaded guilty in 2014 to endangering the welfare of a child.
On August 5, Melinda confirmed her daughter had died by suicide in a Facebook post in which she opened up about her mourning. “She was my best friend and amazing daughter. I wish I could have taken the pain from her.” Melinda recently honored the four-month anniversary of Daisy’s death in a December 5 post, captioning a collage of photos of her daughter: “4 mos ago today my baby girl left this world with a broken heart and spirit. [...] Send out light and love and protect each other and I will protect and pray for anyone who needs it. Let’s make this a Daisy Day filled with light, hope and love. Let’s work toward a justice system that stops failing the victims of rape.”
Melinda is survived by her sons Logan and Charlie, who have not yet released a statement on their mother’s passing. Shael Norris, the executive director of SafeBAE, set up a GoFundMe for the Coleman family on Monday.
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.