Blog by Associate Colette Parker

A recent tweet posted by the Dalia Lama truly resonated with me:

“What is important is not so much how long you live as whether you live a meaningful life. This doesn’t mean accumulating money and fame, but being of service to your fellow human beings. It means helping others if you can, but even if you can’t do that, at least not harming them.”

At first my focus leaned heavily toward living a meaningful life and being of service to and helping others. But as I lived with this tweet for about a week, the latter part “but even if you can’t do that, at least not harming them” took on a new, more powerful meaning.

That significance began taking shape after I read news accounts about 10-year-old Ashawnty Davis. I began to wonder if Ashawnty would still be alive if someone had a commitment to not doing harm to another human being.

It pains me to know that a 10-year-old was so tormented that she walked into a closet in her Colorado home and hanged herself. According to news reports, Ashawnty died of an apparent suicide after a video of her fighting with an alleged bully outside her elementary school was posted online. She died last Wednesday, after spending two weeks on life support.

The day before Ashawnty died, 13-year-old Rosalie Avila, hanged herself in her bedroom at her California home. Her parents said that she was the victim of relentless bullying at her middle school. News accounts say that she left behind a letter of apology, in which she described herself as “ugly” and “a loser.”

I can’t begin to imagine how Rosalie and Ashawnty’s parents are dealing with the grief of losing their daughters, of being with them in the hospital during their final hours, and of finding them clinging to life in their homes.

Yet in the midst of their agony, they are crying out to help prevent another child from being pushed to the brink by a bully. They say their daughters’ deaths should and could have been avoided, if the bullying had been dealt with.

Rosalie’s father’s message was clear: “Think about what you say before you say it because your words are going to hurt somebody…All these things that people say…all the horrible things…it has an effect.”

Ashawnty’s parents are calling it “bullycide” and want to raise awareness that children are taking their lives due to bullying.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people and youth who report both being bullied and bullying others have the highest rates of negative mental health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and thinking about suicide.

What I know is two beautiful young girls are no longer with us because they apparently were seeking a way to escape the pain of a situation that seemed impossible for them to deal with.

I have a need to believe that Ashawnty and Rosalie left a meaningful mark on the world. I believe that during their short lives, they brought joy and happiness to those they touched.

But I can’t help but wonder, if they would still be with us had someone taken heed to the words of the Dalai Lama to at least do no harm to others?

I wonder how many of us can live out the message of Rosalie’s father — to think before we speak or act to ensure that our words and actions are helping others and not harming them?

Posted in Associate Blog, News


  1. Excellent article. This is a really sad situation. Suicide is a bad situation altogether but when a child feels threatened to the point they take their life because of how another chikd is treating them it’s painful and appalling!!! These bullies should be held accountable for their action’s in some way. More people need to get involved so something can be done about these child bullies. I hope parent’s are reading this article. Very proud of you!!!

  2. As a parent of a child that is experiencing unrelenting bullying in school these losses of life sadden me deeply. When I read about these girls online I was shocked to see the hateful comments by grown ups calling these girls weak and thin skinned. If someone has not experienced bullying in the present day they truly have no idea. It is also concerning to see the lack of concern for these girls mental health and lack of understanding by society of how this situation could bring upon depression, anxiety and more.
    I have been a savvy advocate navigating the school system and obtaining support services for my daughter and yet there is a limit to where a parent can effect change in the schools. It doesn’t mean we stop trying but schools have to step up to meet us halfway. Thanks Colette for continuing to shine light on this topic.

  3. Colette,
    Your message brought tears to my eyes. What are we doing about bullying in our schools? Thank you for bringing awareness to this issue. This needs to stop before more young people take their lives. Thank you for bringing this topic to our attention.

  4. Thanks, Colette. How sad it is that children cannot go to school and feel safe. Thanks for sharing these two stories. It is another justice position to do something about and to pray for the victims and those they leave behind.

  5. It is a sad commentary on our society when bullying seems to be an accepted behavior. When this callous behavior is almost commonplace among those from whom we expect leadership, it is even worse.

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