A 15-year-old Florida girl took her own life after her so-called friends recorded her while she was showering and shared the footage on Snapchat, her family said.
Tovonna Holton took a gun from her mother’s purse and fatally shot herself in a bathroom in her family’s Tampa-area home Sunday, relatives told WFLA-TV.
The teen had complained earlier that night that her friends took nude images of her without her permission, her family said.
“Tovonna would say, ‘Mommy, I owe them, I owe them,’” her mother Levon Holton-Teamer told the television station. “I said, ‘What do you mean you owe them?’ I couldn’t understand what’s wrong.’”
The grieving mother said she found her daughter bleeding in their bathroom only minutes after sending her to clean her room. She tried in vain to save her.
“I tried to apply the pressure, the pressure to her head. I tried to save her,” Holton-Teamer said.
Tovonna’s aunt, Angel Scott, said she found out that a video of the Wiregrass Ranch High School student taking a shower was posted on Snapchat after she turned to Facebook to get answers as to why her niece would kill herself.
“I just said, ‘If anybody knows anything, what happened? Have you heard of anything? Do you know who these kids are who have the pictures?’ I thought it was just pictures and then the kids started inboxing me,” Scott told the TV station.
“Everybody was out there talking about her and calling her names, and they said it went up on social media, Snapchat. I’d never heard of that before about 3 something that afternoon.”
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has received reports of the video making its rounds on social media, spokesman Eddie Daniels told the Tampa Bay Times. Tovonna’s death is under investigation, as detectives “continue to investigate all angles,” he said.
A spokesman for the Pasco County School District told the Daily Beast that the district is working with the sheriff’s department, saying “We’ve turned everything over to them.”
Tovonna’s loved ones and strangers outraged by the teen’s death took to social media to speak out against the apparent aftereffects of bullying.
“My God. She was beautiful. I hope and pray that they are found, and punished,” one person wrote on a photo of Tovonna that a friend shared with the story of her death.
The post included the hashtags #StopBullying and #ProtectOurChildren and had been shared more than 5,000 times by Friday.
“This was done by ‘friends’ of hers! Heartbreaking,” another person wrote.