A mother whose daughter died by suicide is urging parents to talk to their kids about their mental health. Brittany Tichenor’s daughter, Isabella, was 10 years old when she took her own life in 2021, following excessive bullying at school.
After the heartbreaking loss, Tichenor continues to advocate on behalf of her daughter for mental wellness check-ins at home, as reported by ABC News. She was recently featured on “Good Morning America,” encouraging parents to prioritize mental health support for their children.
“I just didn’t know how bad it was,” Tichenor told the talk show program of the bullying her daughter suffered and her mental state. “I think she made a temporary decision in a moment of hurt, and I’ll never forget that.”
Isabella, who was also known by her nickname “Izzy,” was dealing with intense bullying at her elementary school in Utah, but her mother was unaware of how awful her daughter’s mistreatment was. The fifth-grader was also autistic and one of the few Black children at her school. Tichenor claimed that the taunting would not only be from her classmates but even some teachers, with her daughter stating that the mole between her eyebrows was often a cause of ridicule.
“I knew part of it, and I kept calling the school. I kept calling the district. But I didn’t know the severity of it,” said Tichenor of her pursuit to find out more of her daughter’s experience. “I told her, ‘You can tell me anything,’ and she normally did, but I kind of feel like she was trying to protect me. I just wish she had told me.”
Isabella’s death is part of a growing problem in schools and mental health issues for adolescents, as the rising number of children dealing with anxiety and depression in the past years. The very same year that Isabella passed, suicide was named the second leading cause of death for both youth and young adults, as confirmed by the CDC.
In August 2023, Tichenor reached a $2 million settlement with her late child’s school district, Davis School District, after the allegations and alleged negligence on the administration’s part to stop the bullying. Sharing Isabella’s story is not easy, but Tichenor’s openness and insight to parents can be impactful in saving a child’s life.
“If [children] tell you something, that they’re getting bullied, do what you need to do to protect them,” expressed the mom. “And make sure you’re there as a support 24/7.”
Tichenor now works with SafeUT, a mental health support platform in Utah, to establish an anti-bullying campaign and parent advisory council.
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