Daisy Coleman, one of the young women featured in the Netflix documentary Audrie & Daisy, died by suicide on Tuesday night, her mother says. She was 23.
In the Netflix documentary, Coleman said she was raped by a high school football player in January 2012 at a house party in Missouri. Audrie & Daisy, released in 2016, chronicled her experience dealing with the assault and the aftermath.
Coleman’s mother, Melinda, told TMZ on Wednesday her daughter’s body was discovered after she called the police to do a welfare check.
Melinda Coleman told TMZ, “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 continued, “She never recovered from what those boys did to her and it’s just not fair. My baby girl is gone.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Coleman’s Brother & Father Both Died in Car Accidents
The youngest of Coleman’s three brothers, Tristan, was killed in a car crash in western Kansas in 2018, according to the Kansas City Star.
Tristan Coleman was driving with his mother Melinda Coleman at the time. She was hospitalized but survived her injuries.
In a 2019 interview with Inked Magazine, Daisy Coleman said, “My little brother was my best friend.”
In 2009, nearly a decade prior to Tristan’s death, Coleman’s father, physician Michael Coleman, was involved in a “tragic accident” that claimed his life, Heavy previously reported. Daisy Coleman was with her father at the time, on their way to her brother Charlie’s wrestling competition when the car hit black ice and plunged into a ravine.
2. Matthew Barnett Pleaded Guilty to a Second-Degree Misdemeanor Charge in 2014
Coleman said she was raped by high school football player Matthew Barnett in January 2012. Her mother discovered her passed-out on the family’s front porch in freezing temperatures the morning after Coleman said she was assaulted. Then came an onslaught of bullying, which led to the Coleman family moving to another town, according to the Netflix documentary.
As revealed in the documentary, the town of Maryville “lashed out” at Daisy Coleman with “all the typical methods of victim-blaming,” in the words of Rolling Stone. A felony assault charge was brought against Barnett, according to the Kansas City Star, but it was later dropped. As Heavy reported at the time, an online petition on Change.org claimed the charges were dropped before forensic results were ever returned.
The Kansas City Star reported that the case was reopened in 2013 after a report in The Star “caused the small-town scandal to go viral.”
Barnett later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment. He was sentenced to two years probation.
3. Coleman Attempted Suicide in 2014
In 2014, Coleman was rushed to the hospital after a suicide attempt.
The Kansas City Star reported that one day prior to the suicide attempt, Coleman attended a party. Afterward, she was “attacked… on a number of Twitter accounts.” According to a previous Heavy report, Coleman was called a “hypocrite” and a “slut” by girls who she previously considered her friends.
At the time, the Daily Mail reported Coleman was in the hospital with “possible brain damage.”
On the Monday after her daughter’s suicide attempt, Melinda Coleman wrote on Facebook, “My daughter has been terrorized to the point she tried to kill herself last night. She may never be ok,” according to the Daily Mail.
Melinda Coleman later told the Daily Mail, “She has been through so much and she has done so little. All the other kids are out partying and doing all this stuff and she isn’t, she’s at home with me all the time. The second they see her at a party for five minutes drinking a Red Bull it’s all over Facebook and they’re tearing her to smithereens… They just won’t leave her alone, Literally, I have a large grocery bag full of the messages that I’ve printed off Facebook. Full of them. F*** you comments, get out of town, all of it.”
4. She Co-Founded the Organization SafeBAE Following Her Rape Case
SafeBAE (Safe Before Anyone Else) is a “survivor-founded, student-led national organization whose mission is to end sexual assault among middle and high school students.”
The organization’s website lists its goals as raising awareness about sexual assault in middle and high schools, providing education around consent and engaging all students to be part of the solution, among other initiatives.
In 2017, Coleman told People, “I definitely feel like people have certain views and perceptions about me and about cases like this because they’re uneducated. That’s exactly why I’m going out and trying to educate people on what’s going on in our society.”
5. She Worked as a Tattoo Artist in Colorado
According to her posts on Instagram, Coleman was working as a tattoo artist in Colorado. In April, she wrote that she was eager to get back to work with extra precautions after what had “been a long quarantine for this artist.” A 2019 interview with Inked Magazine revealed that Coleman was still “working through layers of trauma.”
Asked how it felt to share her truth and how the publicity from the film had impacted her life, Coleman said, “It was refreshing to tell my story artistically through Audrie & Daisy. It was a lot different from doing television interviews because every reporter has a story they’re looking for. But with Audrie & Daisy, it was just my story and my life.”
She continued, “I think publicity has always been a struggle with my self-love. It’s hard staying true to yourself when a lot of people share their opinions of who you should and shouldn’t be.”