I have no doubts that there are times when we ask ourselves, why did this happen? Tragedy strikes us every year, and it will continue to in the years to come. They shock you, upset you, scare you, and anger you. Sometimes, they hit you like a ton of bricks and leave you feeling a different person. That's what happened to me last week...
Katelyn Nichole Davis was only twelve-year-old when she started her Youtube channel titled, "ITZ DOLLY!!!" She was an aspiring vlogger, singer-songwriter and comedian who wanted nothing more than to make a channel and start a possible career as a YouTuber. She lived with her mother and younger brother in Polk County, Georgia. She debuted her channel on December 6, 2016. She only posted two videos. The first video was an introduction to herself and her channel as well as a list of the content she planned on posting. The second video was a video of her singing a song she wrote. The lyrics of the song suggested bullying, and depression.
Katelyn didn't just post videos. She also kept an online diary titled: "Diary of a Broken Doll," that was open online to the public. While this diary had been taken down, screenshots of some of her entries still survive. I have read through all the entries and what I found was disturbing and heartbreaking. Ten days before her death, she posted a diary entry. In the entry, she discusses how she isn't happy about the coming holidays, stating: Its just because I am not a very happy person and positive person, ya know? I would be, if it wasn't for everything that has happened. But it seems that time and experience made me what I am today, and I am happy I am not any other way.
The next entry, which was posted on December 22nd, was dedicated to her love, Ben Drowned, a creepypasta character from a story titled "Haunted Majora's Mask." The story describes a boy who bought a Nintendo 64 cartridge of Zelda's Majora's Mask, a popular video game in the Legend of Zelda series. Supposedly, the game cartridge is haunted by a boy named Ben who died by drowning. It is believed he communicates through the living via a haunted game. While obviously, this is just a creepypasta story, Katelyn's diary entry suggested she had a "personal relationship" with this fictional character. Katelyn wrote in this entry: I NEED his love. I NEED his warmth. It has been several months since I last spoke with him. And one of those months I actually tried to kill myself by overdose because I cannot take the pain anymore. I just NEED to find my love. This entry suggests that Katelyn was possibly mentally unstable, and attempted suicide. However, I personally speculate that she actually met a stranger on the internet that also knew the story and went by the name "Ben Drowned" and that who she could be referring to. However, the entry shows a sense of deep passion to a fictional character, and remains very unsettling.
The next day, on December 23rd she posted another entry. She states that she had "found her love," supposedly Ben, and gives an insight on her living environment. She claims that she lives in a trailer, and rather then a bed, she sleeps on a "rusty old mattress" on a floor that is always wet due to a leaky pipe connected to her room. A photograph (shown in the picture below) in the entry of what is supposedly her sleeping space reveals a hole in the corner of the room. Cold weather mixed with the wetness of the floor has made Katelyn sick.
Her fourth entry (below), was posted two days after Christmas. This entry I found deeply disturbing and a deeper look into Katelyn's life. In the entry, she talks about how she was forced to visit her stepfather during Christmas. She writes that her stepfather abuses her and her siblings. She wrote about being hit with a leather belt with silver studs, and receiving an acceptance letter from the National Leaders Association of Young Leaders, only to have her stepfather call her stupid and burn the letter in front of her. She also claims that he tried to rape her. This is where I ask why didn't Child Protective Services get involved, for this girl was obviously living in a dangerous environment, and these diaries are in no doubt a cry for attention... a cry for help. It is also possible that this "relationship" with "Ben," was a coping mechanism that gave Katelyn solace. But it wasn't enough....
On December 27th, Katelyn posted her final diary entry (below). This one is the most disturbing entry of them all. In the entry there is a picture of Katelyn's bare legs, revealing self-inflicted cuts on her thighs. This is a strong indicator that Katelyn was, in fact, a victim of abuse. She writes that it's the first time she has cut herself in over a month... so she had a history of self-mutilation. She also reveals that she has been dealing with depression and that her medication she takes for it doesn't help her. A problem that is surprisingly common for those struggling with depression. She mentions that if her mother finds out about her cutting, she will be in "deep s***." And finally, she mentions she has thoughts about hanging herself. This final entry became two real three days later
On December 30, 2016, 12-year old Katelyn Nichole Davis hung herself while live streaming via Live.me. Her Youtube channel, titled ITZDOLLY, was terminated as a result of the video, but thousands of people had already seen it. It is unconfirmed but there are accounts that Katelyn's family insisted on reuploading the video to raise awareness of the tragedy. Click here if you want to see the video yourself. (Disclaimer: The footage in the link is disturbing, and will shock those who view it. It is real, very graphic and very scary. I do not recommend sensitive viewers to watch it. Watch it at your own risk. Also as time goes by, there is a possibility of this video being taken down by Youtube in the future.) For those of you who choose not to click on the link, can read the description below based on what I watched. And no, this wasn't easy to do.
The video starts with Katelyn walking outside a trailer, in what is possibly her yard. She walks for the first few minutes of the video. Then around the five-minute mark, she sets her camera down in front of a tree, and after a few moments of adjusting it, she wanders off camera for about five more minutes. She comes back with either a rope or a cable in her hands and proceeds to tie it around a branch on the tree. The sounds of cars driving by can be heard throughout the duration of the video. For the next five minutes that follow, she adjusts the ropes a few times, even commenting to herself that the rope isn't tight enough.
Around the 16 minute mark, she picks up the camera again. She begins to speak, first apologizing for "not being pretty enough." After a brief cut in the camera, and it's noticeably darker than before, she looks at the camera and says, "I'm sorry I came into your lives just to get out of it so quickly. I'm sorry for everything. I am really and truly sorry for everything. But I can't do this. I'm sorry." Her voice is shaky and she is clearly upset.
After speaking to the camera, she sets it back down in front of the tree. She climbs the tree and ties a noose around her neck. She begins sobbing. Then she apologizes to a supposed guy she met online, "Luke," then to a two other people, Ben and Lizzie.
She says: "I'm sorry Luke, I wasn't the best for you. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry I just wasn't good enough. I'm sorry Ben. I'm sorry Lizzie that I...(video glitches) her. I'm sorry Lizzie that I always wasn't strong enough. I'm sorry everyone. I'm sorry I let this depression get to me. I'm sorry everyone. I'm really sorry. I really don't deserve this. I don't deserve to live. I'm sorry God, I'm sorry. I know I'm making an act of selfishness. I'm so sorry everyone. I'm sorry. I'm sorry to all you guys who really like me and want me... I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I seem like a whore, that I'm nothing but worthless. I'm so sorry. I'm really sorry."
She sobs for a few more moments. Then she says: "Why am I crying? Goodbye. I'm sorry. I'm sorry you have to see my suicide. Goodbye."
She lets the stool she is standing on give way. For the next disturbing minute, her body twitches violently before finally becoming still. For the second half of the video, it shows only her lifeless body hanging from the tree. It gets darker out as the video continues. After about seven minutes, the voices of her brother and her mother can be heard shouting her name in the distance, while her phone rings several times, this continues for the remainder of the video.
Eventually, her mother found her body and called the police. Paramedics tried their best to save her, but it was no use. At 6:00 p.m., Katelyn Nichole Davis was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Polk County Police are still continuing to investigate the circumstances behind this tragedy and are yet to release any further findings to the public.
The whole time I was watching it, that forty-two-minute long video played out like a horror movie. Except when you go to see a horror movie, you can remind yourself that it's all fake, it was just a movie, no harm was done to anyone. But this video was real. A real video of a real girl committing suicide, and yet everything made it look like a horror movie. The sun was setting around the time the video was made, almost playing as a gruesome symbol to the end of this girl's life. The sounds of cars driving by in the background, their drivers innocently going by, not thinking a single bit of the event taking place over by the nearby trees, almost like how we tend to look the other way, unaware of those who need help the most. And the sound of Katelyn's phone ringing and her mother calling out her name... too late to save her.
Katelyn wanted to do nothing more than make a career as a Youtube star. She clearly put passion into the only two videos she ever made. But by the lyrics of the song she wrote and the diary entries, there was clearly something wrong with her. This was a girl who was struggling with abuse, depression, turning to the internet to find comfort, and in the end took her own life, alone and ignored.
This video left me shaken in such a negative way, that I found myself sobbing like a child for some time after first watching it. I was in tears, I was angry and I kept thinking over and over what could possibly be going through her head in those final moments. And all I could do was pray to God that he forgave her and allowed her into heaven, and to give her family the strength to find a way through this dark time.
I thought my investigation ended here... but it didn't. Over the course of the week, more evidence began to surface, and I found myself backtracking through her vlogs prior December 30th.
While Katelyn had only posted two videos on her official youtube channel, she primarily live streamed daily on the site called Live.me. I found myself backtracking. Because these live streams, which were uploaded to youtube gave me a deeper look at her everyday life. She had conducted a three-hour love live stream on the day before her death. December 29th, 2016. It seemed like a typical day (for her at least.) Until around the 30-minute mark, her mother comes home and starts yelling at her. At one point she takes the phone away, while it's still recording and puts it away somewhere. In the background, you can still hear the two fighting. After it seems to calm down, there is a brief discussion about Katelyn's supposed boyfriend, Luke. The conversation suggests that Luke committed a crime of some sort. A few moments later her mother gives her phone back to her. Katelyn leaves the room and retreats to what appears to be her bathroom, her face shows that she is clearly upset and begins crying. Around the 52 minute mark, Katelyn's mother beckons her into the other room.
Yet I continue to ask: Who do we blame? Those who abused her and pushed her over the edge? Do we blame her for making the choice? Or do we blame ourselves? For turning the other cheek and dismissing it as just another overdramatic teenager with issues. We can't fully blame ourselves, we didn't know Katelyn, and unfortunately we never knew of her existence until it was too late. It's amazing how we come to acknowledge someone else's existence when they die. But we've dismissed people like Katelyn before, teenagers who seem to act overdramatically to the point it sounds ridiculous and we dismiss them without question believing there isn't really anything wrong. But there is. We all have feelings and struggles, and no doubt do we feel small when people look the other way. Even when someone is being overdramatic, it's still how they feel regardless, and they will be upset if you dismiss them as such.
Think about the friends you have, the people who love you, care about you and look out for you. Think about all the caring strangers in the world who might just care enough to hold a door open for you, help you pick up your books you dropped in the hallway, or pull or push you out of way of an oncoming car because you didn't look both ways.
Think about the people you walk by on your college campus, or in the school hallways. Do you think much of them? Most of them total strangers? They might be strangers on the surface, but deep down, they are no different than you and me. They are human, just like you. They have feelings, opinions, emotions and they have their own battles to fight. We all have battles to fight in our lives. I have never known a person who never struggled with anything; whether it was school, family, college, bullying, depression, relationships, workplace etc.) We all struggle, and we all have our ways of struggling. Some of us are able to overcome those struggles. Whether its; being surrounded by friends and family, religion, hobbies, music, or just our own personal strength that tomorrow is another day and one less day you have to deal with your demons. Others, however, don't have people to turn to, not everyone has faith, and some of us don't know how to be strong.
Every day over 5,240 youths attempt suicide, and about 4,600 people between the ages of 10 and 24 die a year from it. It remains the second leading cause of death of college youths and teenagers alone, killing more than cancer, AIDS, pneumonia, birth defects, influenza and chronic lung disease combined! .Young people dying at their own hands terrifies me more than anything. They think it's the only way out, they think that it will solve their problems when all it does is kill them. They are unable to handle certain levels of stress, which can be brought on by abuse, health problems, and poor academic performances.
That's what stopped the 13-year-old me from committing suicide. I endured severe bullying to the point I was hiding out in the restrooms for certain parts of the day. I was afraid to go to school. I found myself waiting after every class in the classroom for the hallways to clear so I can safely go to my next class. I had barely any friends, those I considered friends began making fun of me too. I didn't go to after school clubs, I didn't have any hobbies yet, and in all honest, I didn't realize I could simply tell an adult. Then what stopped me from ending it all? Maybe I was a bit stubborn, maybe I had too much pride, maybe I was so committed to making it through middle school completely since I had to transfer between elementary schools. But I knew one thing; killing myself meant I lose. It meant that those who tormented me were able to break me and they won. I didn't want them to win. I couldn't bare the torment, but I kept going to school and I kept taking the punches because you don't get a restart when you kill yourself.
Not only do you let the tormentors win, but you set off a grenade. The moment you die, the moment that grenade goes off, you destroy the lives of everyone around you. God only knows what Katelyn's mother and her brother are going through.
There is nothing we can do for Katelyn now. But we can do everything to make sure no other teen ever makes the same decision as her. And you can help with it!!
For anyone reading this, who is tormented, depressed, suicidal, feel that their life is worthless, experiences ANYTHING similar to what Katelyn might have been going through, I want you to keep this in mind: Everyday you live, is another day you haven't broken. The pain might be unbearable, you might be suffering, and you might wish you were dead every breathing second of your life, but you're still alive and breathing right now and that is a greater accomplishment than any accomplishment you can achieve!! You are stronger than you really think.
And for those of you who know someone who is depressed, I urge you to help them. Look out for those you care about and love dearest to you. Be a shoulder they can cry on. Be there for them. Don't ever look the other way and dismiss them, because is it really worth the risk?
Rest in Peace, Katelyn Nichole Davis, and may God forgive you and allow you into Heaven. And may God give strength to her family and her friends in this dark time.
I hope we all learned something from this tragedy.
If you or a loved one is experiencing thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It is available 24 hours every day. And if you or a loved one suspect or are experiencing ANY form of abuse from an adult, please contact Child Protective Services at 1-800-342-3720. And most importantly, if you feel you are in immediate danger dial 911 immediately.