10-year-old Utah girl who died by suicide was bullied by students for being Black, autistic

A Utah Mother is raising attention to bullying after her 10-year-old daughter committed suicide after what her mother says was constant harassment at school. At a press conference Brittany Tichenor said she reached out to the Davis School District “multiple times” months ago to discuss her concerns about her daughter Isabella’s treatment at the school before the fifth grader hanged herself on Saturday, Nov. 6.

“Even though my baby is gone, I’m going to make sure that I stand for Izzy,” Tichenor said while describing the bullying her daughter received at Foxboro Elementary School. “And I’m going to make sure — for voices that can’t be heard like hers — that this will never happen again to any kid.”

Tichenor says her daughter opened up to her that she didn’t believe her teacher liked her. Isabella, who was autistic, told her mom that she didn’t believe her teacher liked her because she would greet “all the other kids” in her class but would ignore her.

The girl informed her mom that students started bullying her after her teacher complained that the students smelled bad which many of her classmates believed it was Isabella.

Tichenor says this caused her daughter to carry air freshener in school to use as perfume. Tichenor’s other children have allegedly faced their own issues at school as well. The mother says her 7-year-old daughter was called the N-word last September.

Tichenor says she was setting up to help Isabella with a book report this past Saturday before the child kissed her and walked into her room. Tichenor said she stepped away to the garage for less than ten minutes before her two other children found their sister hanging in her closet.

Hundreds of people gathered at the school in North Salt Lake on the night of Nov. 9 for a vigil held in honor of  Isabella. Sapphire Robinson, a licensed child and family therapist, told KSL TV Izzy’s death could have been avoided. “Her death is on Utah’s hands, the people of Utah, the school district,” she said.

The Davis School District said it is investigating the circumstances around the 10-year-old’s death. In a statement released ABC 4 the district said, “We, like everyone, are devastated by the death of this child. Our hearts go out to the family. Foxboro Elementary has worked extensively with the family and will continue to provide help to them and others impacted by this tragedy.”

“We take all incidents and reports of bullying seriously. At this point, the incident we are aware of involved another student. The teacher and administration responded quickly and appropriately. As with all allegations of bullying, our investigation will continue.”

Tichenor is now creating a nonprofit called “I Stand with Izzy,” telling reporters, “I’m doing this in speaking out because my child harmed herself and I don’t want nobody, another parent to go through what I have to. Now, we’re going to be burying our 10-year-old. Like, it’s surreal.” She added, “Parents, please talk to your kids and even if you see a little sign, get them help as fast as you can.”

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