Daisy Coleman, the activist and sexual assault survivor who was the subject of the 2016 Netflix documentary “Audrie & Daisy,” has died at age 23.
Daisy’s mother, Melinda Coleman, revealed her daughter’s death Tuesday on Facebook, where she also shared tributes from friends.
SafeBAE, an organization for sexual assault survivors co-founded by Daisy Coleman, a tattoo artist and model, confirmed the news in a statement sent to USA TODAY by Shael Norris, the group’s executive director.
“Daisy has fought for many years to both heal from her assault and prevent future sexual violence among teens,” a statement says. “She was our sister in this work and much of the driving force behind it.
“We are shattered and shocked by her passing from suicide. … She had many coping demons and had been facing and overcoming them all, but as many of you know, healing is not a straight path or any easy one.”
On Thursday, close friends and coworkers held a memorial service for Coleman – who also went by the name “Cat” – at the Phoenix Tattoo Shop where she worked, according to Jayden Davidson, Coleman’s friend and manager of her modeling work at @Elvtd.entertainment.
“(I) broke down at the end of it,” Davidson told USA TODAY in an email. “Cat is an amazing person, and she had so much incredible talent and more to offer this world.”
He says he had just worked with Coleman on Saturday, when she was dancing in a music video.
“She was also a musician herself and was working on creating an upcoming EP that she was really excited about,” he says. “I had hoped to make music with her one day as well.”
Melinda Coleman wrote on Facebook that she called police to check on her daughter, before she was found dead in Denver.
“She was my best friend and amazing daughter. I think she had to make it seem like I could live without her. I can’t,” she wrote. “I wish I could have taken the pain from her! She never recovered from what those boys did to her and it’s just not fair. My baby girl is gone.”
In “Audrie & Daisy,” Coleman spoke of being a survivor after experiencing sexual assault at 14. The other subject of the movie, Audrie Pott, committed suicide after nude photos taken of her after an assault went viral when she was 15.
When local law enforcement emphasized to filmmakers the safety of the small town where Coleman was allegedly assaulted, “I really had to sit back and laugh,” she told USA TODAY in a 2016 interview.
She said she enjoyed tattooing images with dark themes on her clients. “It almost forces my audience to look for the light and the good in the darkness,” Coleman said.
Norris told USA TODAY that Coleman appeared to be doing well until about two years ago, when she lost her brother in a car accident.
After that, Coleman started EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy, a treatment used on PTSD patients, to help deal with her trauma. Over time, says Norris, the therapy appeared to be so effective that it was going to be featured in another documentary in post-production about Coleman called “Saving Daisy.”
Netflix said it was “deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Daisy Coleman,” in a statement provided Thursday to USA TODAY by spokesperson Jackie Berkowitz. “Daisy’s courage in sharing her story in ‘Audrie and Daisy’ was an inspiration to viewers around the world, and our thoughts are with her family and friends.”
Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, the documentary’s directors, called it “brutal news and such a difficult moment for us who knew and loved Daisy personally or were impacted by her story.”
“We understand that even as Daisy helped those who suffer, she also suffered herself,” their statement said. “The Daisy who we knew also would have wanted her work to continue. Now, more than ever, we find it important to recognize and draw attention to all survivors and continue to fight on their behalf.”
“Please know that above ALL ELSE, she did this work for you,” SafeBAE’s statement added. “She loved talking to young people about changing the culture and taking care of one another. Much of her healing came from each of you.”
If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time day or night, or chat online.
Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Daisy Coleman: Memorial service held for subject of ‘Audrie & Daisy’