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Parents of 16-Year-Old Who Died by Suicide, Calls for Empathy and Kindness in the World

Parents of 16-Year-Old Who Died by Suicide, Calls for Empathy and Kindness in the World

The teenager was bullied and had difficult friendships in high school. She died a day before senior year began.

Trigger Warning: The following piece contains extensive details of suicide, which may be distressing to some readers. 

McKenna Brown, 16, was a brilliant athlete with a promising future, but she died by suicide just a few days before the start of her senior year at East Lake High. Cheryl Brown, McKenna's mother, said, "She lit everything up when she walked in a room. Hilarious. Witty." Hunter, her father, said she had a heart that was always open to anyone in need.

Her parents cited cyberbullying, female friendships, and teen relationships as contributing factors to her tough freshman year. Hunter goes on to say, "Anybody that she felt was feeling left out, she went over, said, ‘Hello.' She just she brought everybody in and connected everybody. She was the glue that held a lot of groups together, including our family." He said that she often put her needs before others, per Fox 13 News



 

 

He said, "She made a couple mistakes. It led to some physical, sexual, emotional abuse. She was blackmailed. She was bullied. She was betrayed by her best friend." He continued, "She was broken. She was hurt. She was alone. She felt like she didn't belong, but she chose to suffer in silence because she never said, 'I need help.' " 

She had a lot to carry, but over the following two years, hockey, they claimed, gave her a purpose. She competed at the top level throughout the nation, and only a few weeks ago, she was thrilled to find that the University of South Florida was launching a women's hockey team. This was in line with her future post-high school plans.

The death of McKenna is the subject of a "open investigation" by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, reports PEOPLE



 

 

Cheryl said, "Only a few weeks ago, she was thrilled to find that the University of South Florida was launching a women's hockey team. This was in line with her future post-high school plans." 

She added, "It's been total hell, and I know she's all around us still, but she's not here physically and that hurts." Hunter, a lieutenant with Palm Harbor Fire Rescue, was among the almost 1,000 people who attended McKenna's memorial ceremony. The Brown family hopes that her daughter's experience may serve as a warning to all parents.

Cheryl added, "If you're aware of something that's going on in your kid's life that's affecting another kid, you got to say something. You can't just not say something. That's not OK and that could've prevented this."

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 (Crisis Text Line).

Her case is being investigated closely by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. In the end, McKenna's family wants her tale to spread kindness and urge young people to be more compassionate toward themselves as well as others.

Hunter remarked, "You know, reach out to them. When you see somebody who is being shunned or lonely or just needs a little hug, lift me up."

"Throw your arm around them," Cheryl shared. "She acted in that way. That's how McKenna does things."

References:

https://www.fox13news.com/news/parents-of-teen-who-died-by-suicide-sound-alarm-on-mental-health-needs

https://people.com/human-interest/parents-speak-out-after-16-year-old-dies-by-suicide-before-start-of-senior-year/

Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images/thianchai sitthikongsak