The tragic and devastating loss of a middle school girl who took her own life because of taunts from her peers has put a community in mourning and has professionals reevaluating how we handle issues of bullying.
Rosalie Avila, 13, was an eighth grader at Mesa View Middle School in Yucaipa, California. She was described as a loving and warm student who earned good grades and has aspirations of becoming a lawyer, reported NBC San Diego.
Now her family must reckon with the sudden loss of their daughter.
"My daughter had the whole world," her father, Freddie Avila told NBC while choking back tears. "Now, I just have to think about what she could have done or what she could have become. Now it's just a memory."
Charlene Avila, Rosalie’s mother told reporters that she knew her daughter was getting bullied by other students at school.
"She kept a journal or a diary of the people who hurt her and people that called her ugly and just putting her down," Charlene told ABC 7.
According to Freddie, many of the kids at school would make fun of Rosalie for having braces. The parents admitted Rosalie would get so upset by the taunting that she would cut herself.
"I remember a couple nights she'd come home, telling me that the kids are calling her names about her teeth. I go, 'You have braces, honey, don't worry. The braces are going to come off,' and she said, 'Yeah, but my teeth are straight and they're still making fun of me,'" Freddie told ABC 7.
All of the bullying Rosalie experienced reached a tipping point on November 28 when the teenager hung herself.
"That's a vision you never want to see from your daughter in her bedroom," Charlene told ABC 7.
Rosalie was taken to Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, where she remained in critical condition. However, the extent of her injuries proved too severe, and she was taken off life-support Friday.
After Rosalie’s death was announced, Mesa View Middle School released a statement to their website.
"No one can fathom the heartbreak and confusion that we are certain many of our students and families are feeling right now," the school said on the statement. "Crisis counselors and intervention teams will be available and supporting our students throughout the district in the upcoming days."
Rosalie’s parents knew about the bullying, yet they did not know how to make it stop.
"We had her in counseling, but I really feel like social media is such a big thing on kids," Charlene told ABC 7. "I think kids don't have the maturity to handle it."
A GoFundMe page was set up to help the family of Rosalie with funeral and medical expenses.
(Photo: NBC 4 San Diego News)