California girl, 15, hangs herself due to stress caused by coronavirus self-isolation: 'Struggled to cope'
Smith hanged herself last week but did not leave behind a letter or a suicide-note
STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA: A California mother is working to raise suicide awareness amidst the pandemic after her 15-year-old daughter killed herself over stress-related issues stemming from self-isolation directive attached to the novel coronavirus.
Jo'Vianni Smith, 15, a sophomore at Bear Creek High School who was a catcher and second baseman for Northern California’s Easton Preps travel team killed herself on Friday, April 3, according to the Record Net. Smith had a reputation as an outstanding athlete.
While it was indicated that the teen did not die from COVID-19 itself, one of the teen's coaches shared that the cause of death was "due to the stresses and pressures from coping with the self-isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic."
In a statement released following her death, the Lodi Unified School District said, "We were deeply saddened to learn of Jo’vianni Smith’s passing. Jo’vianni was well-loved by the Bear Creek High community."
"She participated in band, played basketball and softball, and was known for her joyful spirit on campus. She will be dearly missed by those who knew her. Our hearts go out to the students, families, and staff impacted by this tragedy. We are providing remote counseling and bereavement services to those who need support right now."
Speaking to Fox40, Jo'vianni's mother, Danielle Hunt, said that she had hanged herself last week but had left no letter, no sign, or nothing to suggest she was about to take her own life. "I felt that I was doing all that I could as a parent to leave the communication open," she said.
She shared that her daughter had been bubbly, loving and active on social media in the days before her death and the coronavirus quarantine and that she believes the young girl may have struggled to cope with California's stay-at-home order.
Hunt described her daughter as a light that would forever shine despite her tragic end and promised to do her best to tell the 15-year-old's story so others would not have to go through the same ordeal. She urged parents to have heart-to-hearts with their kids and help them with their emotions during this pandemic, "even if they are smiling and dancing."
"Sometimes we may need to stop and worry about the kids that we don’t think we need to worry about," she said.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to "alleviate the financial strain and assistance in covering the memorial arrangements," as well as a scholarship fund with any of the additional money. "Jo was a shining star in our world and she will be deeply missed," a description read. "In her young spirited life, she touched so many hearts but this has especially rocked our small softball community."
"She was a force to be reckoned in all of her sports but will always be remembered for her explosive speed out on the field! She loved to dance, laugh, and act like any normal goofy 15 yo girl. She Loved her friends, her teammates and her family and we loved her right back! It was a privilege to have her in our lives, in our softball circle. May you find peace in the arms of God Jo , your "team" will never forget you....."
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-8255.