“Nobody deserves to feel that way”: Salt Lake community mourns 10-year-old Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor
As rain began to fall late Tuesday evening, hundreds of people huddled inside the pavilion in Fox Hollow Park in Northern Salt Lake City. They were there to remember Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, 10, who died by suicide Saturday.
Her mother, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, said during a press conference Monday that Izzy was bullied at school because she was autistic and Black. She said the Davis School District and other officials failed to intervene.
“She was 10,” Tichenor-Cox said. “And I felt like she took on the weight of the world and she kept it internally because I felt like she was trying to protect me. I love my baby … This is just the start, and I need you guys to help me.”
The mourners were illuminated by candlelight, some parents clutching their children, others silent as tears streamed down their faces.
A large picture of Izzy in a navy blue dress with a pink sash and her wide smile adorned one of the pillars.
“Izzy should be here today,” said Josh Chamberlin, a concerned community member.
Some of her friends from fifth grade remembered her as a loving, kind, thoughtful young girl who always kept smiling even when she was bullied at school.
“Nobody deserves to feel that way,” said Zayley, a school friend of Izzy’s.
Her death comes two weeks after the Davis district received a report from the U.S. Department of Justice that found it had mishandled various reports of racism at their schools.
Several of her classmates spoke at the vigil about their experiences at school and how Izzy was a good friend to them.
Tichenor-Cox said her family reached out several times to the school to address the bullying but nothing came of it. Now the community is demanding action from the district. KUER reached out to Davis School District for comment, but they did not respond.
Sapphire Robinson, a licensed child and family therapist, urged parents to talk to their children about race and mental health.
“I hope you guys recognize it might be really hard to talk to your kids about race, but you got to. Otherwise, you're going to be talking to them about death,” Robinson said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at at 1-800-273-8255.