Parents of 11-year-old best friends who took their lives say classmates bullied the girls 'for coming out'
Two months after Madissen shot herself with her father's gun at her North Dakota home, her best friend Sophia was found hanging at her home on the Spirit Lake Reservation
The heartbroken parents of two 11-year-old best friends have revealed that their daughters took their own lives within months of each other because they believe the two were bulled by their classmates. Reports state that the two used to call each other "girlfriend".
Madissen Foxx Paulsen died in December 2017 when she shot herself with her father's gun at her home in Devil's Lake, North Dakota. Two months after her death, her best friend Sophia Leaf-Abrahamson was found hanging at her home in St. Michael on the Spirit Lake Reservation, according to reports.
Madissen's and Sophia's parents, Angela Leaf, 33, and Shane Paulsen, 46, while talking to Daily Mail about their loss said that they only came to know about the sixth-graders being bullied at Central Middle School after their deaths.
"I didn't know there was a problem until I woke up to a gunshot on December 2," Shane, who is originally from Portland, Oregon, said. "I thought I had a healthy, happy child. Madissen was excellent in school, As and Bs. She won the American Citizenship Award. I don't have other children, I'm a single father. We lost Madissen's mom Ravanah to heroin addiction. I'm trying to work through where it went wrong. I still live in the same apartment where she killed herself so I don't go home often."
"Madissen was everything. She was happy. I saw it, I know she was," Shane said, adding that Madissen was passionate about computer-animated design and was a huge animal lover. The girls reportedly became friends in fifth grade and were nearly inseparable since.
Meanwhile, Angela said: "Sophia had a radiant personality, instantly you were her friend. She got that from my Dad, he was the same way. She loved the outdoors, snowboarding and playing in the snow. During the summer, it was swimming or fishing. She never gave you the sense that something was bothering her, always smiling, joking."
Madissen's father said that Sophia stayed over at their place a few times and all of them had a good time together.
"We'd go to the movies and Burger King. They spent a lot of time doing their art, they were making a comic book together. They were both super colorful. They liked to dye their hair, electric blue and pink," Shane said.
Angela, who worked as a 911 dispatcher at the Bureau of Indian Affairs for 10 years, said that her daughter dreamt of being an artist and teacher, and wanted to join the military like her cousin.
"My uncle ran the marathon so she wanted to do that too. Then she wanted to be a police officer because I worked in law enforcement," Angela said.
Both parents believe that their daughters could have been struggling with their sexuality as Sophia reportedly once told her mother: "I think I like girls."
"She asked if I was ''grossed out'' and I told her I would be a big hypocrite [if I did] because my sister is my best friend and she's bisexual. I told her there's no way I'm going to judge her because she's my daughter," Angela said.
"If she and Madissen had those feelings, I would never have any issues with it. It's part of life and I love my daughter one way or the other, no matter what," she added.