A teenage girl posted a desperate cry for help on Facebook just hours before she took her life. Fourteen-year-old Rochelle Pryor, a girl of aboriginal descent who lived in Perth, described being bullied and constantly facing racism in the post and hoped she wouldn't have to bear the pain when she was gone.
According to the Daily Mail, on New Year's Day, Rochelle wrote, "Once I'm gone, the bullying and the racism will stop," and that only one of her friends replied to the post. Later the same night, she was found unconscious in her room by her father and was rushed to the hospital. Despite the best efforts of medical professionals to save her life, she was declared dead nine days later on January 10.
Writing a tribute to Rochelle on Instagram, one friend posted, "My vision is so blurry from my tears … come back, please. The last day we were talking about what color you should dye your hair and you were thinking about… blue or purple. If I knew that was your last day, I would do anything to stop you. I remember telling you whenever you weren't in the right mindset I would repeat telling you 'I'm always here for you.'"
Her sister Kyanne decried the teen's suicide and described her as "sweet, happy, and funny."
According to reports, last August, the 14-year-old was involved in some kind of confrontation with other students outside her school's gates and had come back home with cuts on her legs.
Her mother said Rochelle subsequently did not want to go to school and that her depression only got worse from there. Her sister Kyanne added that she had a downturn in her mental health in recent times and that she was worried her sister had been abandoned by her friends.
"She was really upset by it," Kyanne, 17, told The Australian. "There was racism involved - a lot of the time it was just random people who don't realise what they're saying."
The Mail reported that Rochelle's death meant she was the fifth Aboriginal girl to commit suicide in the past two weeks alone.
This includes a 15-year-old girl from Western Australia who killed herself on January 3, a 12-year-old girl who took her own life in South Hedland on January 4, and a 14-year-old girl who committed suicide in the Kimberley region of Northern Territory on January 6.
Rochelle's and the other children's deaths have highlighted a growing problem in the country, with the head of the Federal Government's indigenous critical response team, Gerry Georgatos, suggesting that poverty and sexual assaults were behind a majority of the cases.
The theory was backed by indigenous lawyer Hannah McGlade, who said there was a clear link between child sexual assault, family violence, and the high numbers of indigenous girls and women taking their own lives.
"Last year the UN highlighted the level of violence against indigenous women and girls in Australia and called for a specific national action plan," she said.
"The people funded to provide suicide prevention plans are not properly addressing the level of sexual violence suffered by our women and girls."