Daisy Coleman, a sexual assault survivor featured in Netflix’s heart-rending documentary “Audrie & Daisy,” reportedly died by suicide on Tuesday night. She was only 23 years old.
Coleman’s body was found after her mother, Melinda Coleman asked police to conduct a welfare check. As revealed by Melinda via her Facebook page.
“She never recovered from what those boys did to her”
The grieving mother wrote, “My daughter Catherine Daisy Coleman committed suicide tonight. If you saw crazy messages and posts it was because I called the police to check on her. 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 never recovered from what those boys did to her and it’s just not fair. My baby girl is gone.”
Last year, Coleman’s family also dealt with the loss of her younger brother following a car accident. In the hours since Coleman’s death, those close to her have shared an outpouring of support for her grieving mother.
Audrie & Daisy: The Documentary
Daisy Coleman was one of the teenagers featured in the Netflix documentary, “Audrie & Daisy.” It followed her and her family dealing with the trauma of her rape at a Missouri house party when she was 14. Coleman was 14 when she alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Matthew Barnett, a teenager in her small Missouri hometown.
Afterward, she was left intoxicated, wearing only a T-shirt, for hours outside her home in sub-freezing temperatures. Audrie & Daisy also focused on the sexual assault of Audrie Pott in September 2012 in California. Pott took her own life 10 days after the assault. She was just 15.
Coleman’s accusation led to a felony sexual assault charge against Barnett, but it was later dropped. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. He claimed the sex was consensual.
The Abuse, Hate and Online Bullying
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.” The case triggered national scrutiny against Coleman’s family as well as an intense backlash in their small town. After becoming a target for bullying, both online and in person, Coleman attempted suicide multiple times before becoming an advocate for other survivors.
“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.”
“I honestly don’t have any vindictive feelings toward him”
In 2014, Barnett pleaded guilty to child endangerment and was sentenced to two years’ probation. Coleman previously spoke in an interview about how she had forgiven him.
“I honestly don’t have any vindictive feelings toward him,” Coleman said in 2017. “I feel like all of that negativity that he put onto me was passed down to him at one point. So I felt the need to stop that kind of transaction of negativity and hate. I went through a lot of years of self-loathing and asking myself, Why me? So much ‘woe is me,’” she continued. “I just decided one day that I was done being negative about it. I needed to forgive myself for what happened.”
After the Netflix documentary, Daisy Coleman used her platform to co-found the organization SafeBAE. Which is dedicated to ending sexual assault on middle and high school students and helping survivors. SafeBAE released a statement following the news, saying they are “shocked and saddened” by Coleman’s passing.
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.”