Days before her death on Saturday, Izzy reported being "belittled and bullied" at the Foxboro Elementary School in North Salt Lake.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 12, 2021. It has since been updated.
Trigger warning: This article mentions death by suicide which may be distressing to the readers.
The pain of losing a child is extremely heartbreaking but knowing that it could have been prevented is just unbearable. A family in Utah found themselves in this tragic situation after their 10-year-old daughter died by suicide after allegedly being bullied in school. Isabella "Izzy" Tichenor, who was a Black autistic child, took this drastic measure over the weekend leaving her loved ones shocked and grief-stricken. "What happened to her, she did not deserve that," expressed Izzy's aunt Jasmine Rhodes on Monday, according to NBC affiliate KSL-TV reported. "She deserved opportunities as any other kid deserves opportunities. She deserved to watch her siblings grow up ... She just deserved so much more than what she got."
Days before her death on Saturday, Izzy did report being "belittled and bullied" at the Foxboro Elementary School in North Salt Lake, recalled her distressed mother, Brittany Tichenor-Cox. Per CBS affiliate KUTV, Brittany claimed that the school did nothing about the complaints and that the issue was not resolved. "She was a happy little girl," said the mom who is beyond herself following the tragic demise of her little daughter. "But as we all know, even as adults, you know there are some voices that rang higher," she continued during a news conference, according to KSL News Radio. A GoFundMe page set up for the family described Izzy as "an amazing, kind, and beautiful" girl, who "touched the hearts of everyone she came in contact with."
Family members say Isabella "Izzy" Faith Tichenor, who was Black and had autism, was the subject of bullying at Foxboro Elementary before she took her own life over the weekend.— KSL (@KSLcom) November 9, 2021
A vigil is scheduled to be held tonight in North Salt Lake. https://t.co/OwXeNJa2hf
The beautiful would love "to sing [and] dance" and "wanted to be a professional dancer in New York or a professional cheerleader when she grew up," according to her obituary. "She was a beautifully unique soul — full of love and kindness. She was bright and gifted," it added. Describing her as a "happy little girl" full of "hope and dreams" the child's grandmother, Pauletta Harris, said, "Being a 10-year-old, I don't know if Izzy understood self-love. I just know from what I witnessed from her, being around her, she was proud of being Isabella. She was happy with Isabella."
But the happy child had been going through a tough year at school as her fellow classmates constantly teased her and she believed that even the teacher didn't like her as she didn't interact with Izzy the same way she did with others, claimed Brittany. Opening up about one incident, the mom shared how Izzy brought air freshener to school because her teacher told the class that they smelled and apparently this led to the girl being tormented more by other students. "As any parent would, we reported this abuse to her teachers, the school administration, and the district administration. Nothing. Nothing was done to protect Izzy. Children did not have their behavior corrected so the torment of this child continued day after day," she told KUTV.
But never for one moment did the mom think that her little girl was contemplating suicide. "I didn't know she thought like that. I was so involved with her at school. You don't know what a child is going through mentally," she shared adding that there were no signs. Recalling the tragic day of Izzy's death, Brittany said that everything seemed normal. "Right before she passed, we were just talking about doing her book report," she said, adding how she had only stepped away for a few minutes when Izzy's sibling alerted her about the 10-year-old's death. The family is now determined to "be Izzy's voice" and "stop this bullying." They want people to honor her life by helping those in need.
"Izzy was always thinking of others. Let us offer love to those who may feel they are not worthy of it. Let us offer a kind word or gesture to those who need to hear and feel it. Let us have conversations about racism, disabilities, bullying and mental illness, even if they are hard and maybe uncomfortable conversations to have. We must have them. Talk to your children, learn who they are and remind them that they are loved," expressed her parents in a statement. "We ask that you Stand for Izzy."
When PEOPLE reached out to the Davis School District for a statement, they shared a statement that read, "We, like everyone, are devastated by the death of this child. Our hearts go out to the family. Foxboro Elementary has worked extensively with the family and will continue to provide help to them and others impacted by this tragedy. We take all incidents and reports of bullying seriously. At this point, the incident we are aware of involved another student. The teacher and administration responded quickly and appropriately. As with all allegations of bullying, our investigation will continue." But things don't look good for the Davis School District as Izzy's death comes nearly two weeks after a 2-year federal civil rights investigation determined that it was "deliberately indifferent" to reports of racial harassment made by Black and Asian-American students.
Disclaimer: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
Cover image source: GoFundMe | Stand for Izzy