Trigger warning: this article contains information about sexualt assualt and suicide.
In the 2016 Netflix documentary Audrie & Daisy, Daisy Coleman recounted her alleged sexual assault at the age of 14 and the ongoing trauma as a result of it.
The accused perpetrators of the attack, Matthew Barnett and Jordan Zech, initially faced charges but were ultimately excused as the prosecutor in the case cited “insufficient evidence”.
The men may have walked free but Daisy never did, with the activist taking her own life in August at the age of 23.
In yet another tragic blow for the Coleman family, Daisy’s mother Melinda also died by apparent suicide just four months later on December 6.
Announcing her daughter’s devastating death in August, Melinda wrote in a Facebook post, “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.”
In the wake of her story being shared in the Netflix documentary, Daisy co-founded SafeBAE — an organisation dedicated to ending sexual assault on middle and high school students and helping survivors.
It was this very organisation that shared the news of Melinda’s passing on Monday, December 7.
“We are in shock and disbelief to share with our SafeBAE family, that we lost Melinda Coleman to suicide this evening,” the Instagram post read, adding that, “there are no words for our sadness.”
Just hours before her own death, Melinda shared photos of Daisy on Facebook with a series of harrowing posts about the loss of her daughter.
“There aren’t enough I love yous I could have said when I was holding your cold, broken, dead body,” her last post read. “It has always been my greatest honour and joy to be your mother and best friend. Mama bear!”
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), an American is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds with 12-34-year-olds being most likely to be the victim of an attack. Young women are especially at risk with females aged 16-19 being four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. 33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide with 13% actually attempting the act.
Audrie Pott, whose story was featured alongside Daisy’s in the Netflix documentary, herself committed suicide after her own alleged sexual assault in September 2012.
Meanwhile, for Melinda Coleman, losing Daisy was yet another loss in a life already marked by multiple tragedies. In 2009, Melinda lost her husband Michael in a car crash, only to lose her son Tristan in the same way in 2018.
Said SafeBAE in their Instagram post, “The bottomless grief of losing her husband, Tristan, and Daisy was more than she could face most days”.
Melinda is survived by her sons, Charlie and Logan.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, please contact the Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence National Help Line on 1800 Respect (1800 737 732) or head to The Australian Human Rights Commission for a list of state by state resources.