Devastated Parents of Girl, 12, Who Died by Suicide After Enduring Months of Bullying Speak Out, Demand Change

As they struggle and mourn the death of their 12-year-old daughter, Flora, Alice Martinez and Joshua Parker they want to help others who have been victims of bullying.

Flora Martinez, a sixth-grader at Duane D. Keller Middle School in Nevada, had her whole life ahead of her.

Young Flora loved being outside and going on nature hikes, fishing, hanging out with friends, doing activities with her family, smiling and having fun with everyone she loved. She was a typical pre-teen who was ready to offer so much to the world.

The youngest daughter of both Alice Martinez and Joshua Parker wanted to be an artist and a lawyer and dreamed of one day owning five dogs when she grew up. The playful tween was close with her six siblings and was loved so strongly by each member of her family.

“She was amazing. She was beautiful. She cared so deeply about everybody. She loved her family a lot,” her mother, Alice, tells Inside Edition Digital. “She was the youngest and the youngest girl, so she was a princess. She was pretty spoiled.”

Her father, Joshua, says that from the outside, Flora seemed so happy. 

“When you would see her at home or outside with her friends, you would never know there was any problems going on," he says. "She was just a very happy, very happy young girl, just full of joy, full of life. Being with her family was probably the highlight of her day.”

But this school year marked a dark turn in Flora’s short life. The 12-year-girl faced constant bullying and harassment both in person at school and online, her family says. And on May 7, Flora died by suicide.

“It's devastating that no matter how hard we fought, we couldn't save our own daughter,” Alice says.

If Bullying Begins, Can It Be Stopped? Flora Martinez's Parents Say Their Cries for Help Went Unanswered  

Flora began being bullied about one month into school year, and it became very clear very quickly that she would be on her own at school in navigating the devastating terrain, her parents say. Inside Edition Digital's multiple requests for comment from Duane D. Keller Middle School have gone unanswered.

A spokesperson for the Clark County School District superintendent tells Inside Edition Digital via email, "The District can not comment on individual student matters due to federal privacy law."

It began in person at school. By the end of the school year, Flora was facing an onslaught of bullying online, as well, her parents say. Flora and other children were in a private group on Instagram where Flora's alleged bullies spewed "venom," including insults about Flora's appearance, according to screenshots of conversations her parents say they reviewed. 

"I don't know where they can learn to be so hateful at such a young age,” Alice says.

Distraught at how their daughter was being treated, Flora's parents say they requested an emergency school transfer. The Clark County School District allegedly denied the request. If the parents chose to homeschool Flora, she would have to repeat the sixth grade, the parents say school officials told them. Alice says she later learned that claim was false. 

Flora spoke to school officials about what she was enduring and her mother made multiple requests for help, but the pleas fell on deaf ears, her parents say. “They put an RPC, which is Required Parent Conference to return to school. They put one on her record, and that's it," Alice says. 

To Alice and Joshua's knowledge, no teacher stepped in to help Flora. “From what I understand, the teachers aren't allowed to do anything anyway, except for report anything that is told to them,” Joshua says. “The teacher hears the problem and the student gets sent to the office, and it gets told to principal, vice principal. As far as that goes, no, they weren't allowed to do anything there, as far as I know.”

There were times that Flora even found herself in trouble after reporting the bullying, her parents say. In several instances, Flora was suspended. 

“I was actually told once by the assistant principal that she ran the camera back and she knew that Flora didn't do anything, and I said, ‘Well then, make it make sense. Why is she being suspended too?’” Alice says.

Flora also struggled to make sense of the consequences she faced, her parents say. 

“Every time that she complained about being bullied, the kid that was bullying her was suspended, she was also suspended, and then there was also, I believe, one or two times there was a no contact order. And she would get in the car wondering what she did wrong to be suspended when she was told, come find the assistant principal and she would handle it," Joshua says. "That was her way of handling it."

“How do you explain that when you don't even understand it yourself?" Alice says. "(The assistant principal) said, ‘Walk away, come find me and I will take care of it,’ and every time she did, (Flora) got suspended, too. So she not only got bullied, she got punished for being bullied.

“When this all started happening and they started suspending her, too, she would be hiding in her room until I got home from work, and I'd be like, ‘Why are you hiding in your room?’ She's like, ‘Well, I don't know, I'm in trouble, right?’" Alice continues. "And I'm like, ‘Absolutely not. You didn't do anything wrong. Get out of here. Go play.’ I just feel like she got let down in every way at school. They knew what was happening and they did nothing to stop it, no matter what we did.”

The suspensions left Flora buried under work she needed to make up after returning to school. 

“For being suspended for three days, just having to go back and make up for that work that she missed. So she's got just things piling up,” Joshua says.

Joshua and Alice watched as their typically bubbly and happy daughter became more anxious and filled with despair, they say. School was torture, and Flora's parents say they felt helpless as they watched her brave it every day. 

“To see that she didn't want to go to school every day, it was just heartbreaking. It hurt me to see how much,” Joshua says.

The Worst Nightmare a Parent Can Face, Realized 

Joshua typically picked up and dropped off Flora at school every day, but on May 7, the father of seven wasn't feeling well. So instead, one of the young girl's siblings collected her from school, and when she got home, she went to her room. As he made dinner for the family, Joshua decided to check on his youngest child. It was then that he realized her door was locked, which was unlike Flora. 

When she didn't answer, he rushed to find a key for the door. 

"I rushed in, grabbed her, got her down and started CPR until first responders arrived,” he tearfully recalls.

Alice, who was recovering from oral surgery, was also home. The memory of her son helping Joshua try to revive Flora is seared in her memory. Overcome with grief, Alice and Joshua held a service for their 12-year-old daughter days later. And then, they began focusing on finding out what happened. 

Alice says she learned that before Flora took her own life, she was asked by a boy she may have had a crush on to be his girlfriend. "She said, 'yes' ... and then in front of everybody, he said, 'I would never go out with somebody as ugly as you. I only asked you on a dare,'" Alice tells Inside Edition Digital. 

“So she was humiliated in front of everybody," Alice tearfully continues. "And if she would have just told me that herself, I wouldn't have made her go back again and deal with all that. If she needed to take a day or two to process what just happened, I would have given her that. I wouldn't have made her go the very next day and suffer all that humiliation, people snickering and pointing, whatever. Kids are cruel. So cruel.”

After Flora's death, the school sent an email to all parents, including Alice and Joshua, notifying them that a student had died. A copy of the email obtained by Inside Edition Digital shows Flora was not mentioned by name.

"It is with deep sympathy that I inform you of the recent passing of a Keller Middle School student. It is never easy to lose a valuable life, especially at a young age and we will truly remember this student as part of our school community," part of the email reads.

To this day, Flora's parents say no one from the school has contacted them. Days after Flora died, Alice says she began receiving emails reminding her to register her for the upcoming school year.

“They couldn't even take her name off that so that I didn't have to look at that every day," she says. "They knew she wasn't coming back. But we haven't heard anything from them."

After Flora's Death, the Bullying Continues and Questions Remain  

Death did not dissuade Flora's bullies from ending their vitriolic behavior, her parents say. 

Other parents showed Joshua and Alice comments made on social media in the wake of Flora's death, including one that said, "I'm glad she's dead. It makes me the happiest person in the world.”

“Another one said, ‘May she rest in piss,’ instead of peace. ‘I wish I could go to her house and shoot her corpse up with my gun.’ Very horrible things,” Joshua says. “Social media has made it to where you can talk about people from afar and have no consequences.”

As they examine the hatred their daughter faced, Joshua and Alice also are left questioning how no one seemed to stand up for Flora. Though she had close friends, "nobody ever stood up for her," Alice says. "It was like they didn't even know her sometimes when that was happening to her.

“I honestly think it's because they were disturbed by what they saw her going through, but they didn't want to become targets themselves, so they just stayed away. Nobody helped her,” she continues.

Joshua agrees, saying, “That's what I think. She only wanted to talk to us about it and not to her friends, because a good majority of her friends did go to school with her, and, they possibly didn't want to be attacked in the same way.”

In Pain, Flora's Parents Strive to Help Others

Flora was so much more than her bullies believed her to be, her parents say. 

“Even while this was going on, it was wonderful to be her parents. She was a good girl. Super empathetic," Alice says. "She felt everything so deeply, but she cared so much for everyone."

“I just love being her dad," Joshua says. "She was an amazing little girl. I enjoyed watching her grow. I enjoyed going to all her award ceremonies and letting her see me and know that there's someone out in the crowd that is there that's proud of her and her accomplishments. Just watching her grow, being the beautiful child, she was."

A little over one month since they lost their daughter, Joshua and Alice still find it impossible to enter Flora's bedroom. 

“I feel guilt for not being the save her when it mattered the most, and so now I feel it's just time to get her story out there, and hopefully it'll save another child,” Joshua says.

The devastated parents hope to help others in similar situations and to push for stronger anti-bullying legislation, as well as better training for those in schools.

“Flora's story is important because this is happening every day, not just in our city, our state. It's happening everywhere. Something needs to be done, and if this story helps save one little kid, at least we saved one,” Joshua says. “Next step is to fight for the next kid. Anybody that's having a meeting for bullying or suicide awareness, I will try to be at every one of them to support in any kind of way. I kind of feel like that's my new goal in life.”

If you or anyone you know is in need of help, please call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or visit 988LifeLine.Org.

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