12-year-old’s family says bullying at school caused her suicide

Instagram - Ashley Cardona

DENVER — Counselors are helping students deal with the death of a sixth grade classmate in Montbello.

Ashley Cardona took her own life last week, and now her family is telling their daughter’s story.

They say she was bullied and they hope others can learn from their tragedy.

“She was the most beautiful person you could ever imagine.”

Ashley’s family spent Monday at the funeral home saying goodbye to the 12-year-old who took her own life last Wednesday.

“Everything was normal until I got home to find that my child was no longer with us,” says Michelle Payan, Ashley’s mother.

She found her daughter’s body after she committed suicide. Ashley’s mother remembers only one cry for help. “She was really quiet. My daughter never really mentioned … only on one occasion about the bullying.”

Now she knows parents often only get one outcry. “Talk to your kids, don’t ignore the signs — even if they are quiet and you think everything is OK — don’t ignore the signs because they are still there,” says Ellen Kelty of Denver Public Schools.

Her aunt says even though she was beautiful, she was tall. She says students made fun of her and called her terrible things because she had a scar on her face.

“She was Gorilla Scarface and my baby shouldn’t have been told this and a lot of us intervened and it didn’t help,” says Perla Butanda.

Whatever the reasons, psychologists say the signs are often missed. “Teaching kids … if you see something going on around bullying or see something online, you need to tell a trusted adult.”

Ashley’s mother says she reported bullying earlier this year to the principal at her school in Montbello. She says the school did try to do something but the bullying never stopped.

“I immediately went to the school but now that her friends have come forward I know it continued.”

Ashley’s Instagram account shows a young girl in crisis late last week. She posted this: “I’m just not Okay,” among other things.

“No words can explain what I feel like right now or how I felt. I just don’t have a child anymore,” Ashley’s mother says.

Her parents have set up a go fund me account to help defray funeral expenses. Cardona’s funeral will be held Wednesday.

LINK: Suicide Prevention – School Safety Resource Center
LINK: Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado, information about bullying


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