The mother of a 14-year-old girl who livestreamed her own suicide on Facebook has blamed foster carers for the teenager’s death.
Nakia Venant killed herself in the bathroom of her foster home in Miami Gardens, Florida, at 3am on Sunday.
Police found her hanging from a scarf in her shower after being alerted by a friend who was watching her social media broadcast. Her foster parents were asleep at the time.
Before taking her own life, she told friends: ‘I don’t wanna live no more.’
On Wednesday, the Haitian teenager’s birth mother, Gina Alexis, spoke at a press conference where she said the system had failed her.
‘I asked the foster care people to take care of my baby and instead she killed herself on Facebook,’ she wept.
Nakia was put into care as a child amid allegations her mother was beating her.
She was sexually assaulted by another foster child when she was seven and has bounced between 10 homes and her biological mother’s care since.
Her mother’s lawyer, Howard Talenfeld, said on Wednesday the sexual abuse and constant upheaval gave her behavioral problems.
She was in the care of foster parents in Miami Gardens when she died on Sunday. The Florida Department of Children and Families has launched an investigation into her death but says it cannot, by law, address specific questions about it.
Nakia had been banned by a judge from using the internet but snuck on it once her foster parents were asleep late on Saturday night, Talenfeld said.
Before beginning her live broadcast at midnight, she told a friend that she didn’t want to live anymore.
The pair exchanged messages on Facebook where she said: ‘Im just tired my life pointless I don’t wanna do this anymore.’
The concerned friend contacted her birth mother and siblings and between them they tried to contact social services, Talenfeld said.
The friend eventually called police who arrived at the home at 3am to find she had already killed herself.
Talenfeld said her death had been caused by the ‘terrible failures’ of the state.
‘Nakia told the world, in the way she left this world, about the terrible failures in (Florida’s) foster care system.
‘Tragically, we are here talking about another child among this horrific list, this horrific history of foster care privatization in Florida.’
The Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll said in a statement that an investigation into her death is underway and will include experts on teen suicide and the influence of social media.
‘This is an extraordinarily complex case that deserves our careful examination,” Carroll said.
‘Our review will survey all of her interactions with the child welfare system and the multifaceted circumstances surrounding this tragedy.’
Florida’s system of hiring private contractors to oversee foster care in much of the state has led to several suicides, accidental deaths and murders, Talenfeld said.
There have been at least two other suicides livestreamed in recent weeks.
On Monday, 33-year-old aspiring actor Frederick Bowdy killed himself in Los Angeles on the social network. He had been recently arrested for sexual assault.
Twelve-year-old Katelyn Nicole Davis hanged herself during a Facebook live broadcast on December 30 after claiming she had been sexually assaulted by a relative.
Facebook addressed the spate of suicides on Wednesday, saying it had tools on its site for users can to report suicide suicide threats or get help if they are having suicidal thoughts themselves.
‘We take our responsibility to keep people safe on Facebook very seriously and work with organizations around the world to provide assistance for people in distress,’ the company said.
Twelve-year-old Katelyn Nicole Davis (left) hanged herself while livestreaming on Facebook on December 30. Frederick Jay Bowdy (right) shot himself in the head while streaming on Monday
Daniel J. Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, said more suicidal people have been saved by Facebook, livestreaming and other social media than have killed themselves because of it but that the positive stories don’t garner as much attention.
‘It gives (suicidal people) the opportunity to connect with somebody who cares about them, who says the right thing on a post or is watching and reaches out to them.
‘Those opportunities don’t exist without livestreaming,’ she said.
However, Ryne Sherman, an associate professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University, said livestreamed suicides have the potential to create something like suicide clusters and copycats.
‘Social media takes this to a whole new level. This isn’t a newspaper report – this has the potential to spread much quicker and to a broader audience,’ Sherman said.