Mother believes bullying led to transgender teen's suicide

by: Alexa Ashwell Updated:

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UNION COUNTY, N.C. - It was practically unbearable for any parent to endure, but on Friday the mother of Ashlyn Haffner, who went by Ash, went back to the road where her child took her own life, near their Indian Trail home Thursday night.

April Quick placed flowers and a balloon where she found her 16-year-old child’s body. An accident report said Ash stepped into the path of an oncoming vehicle.   
 
“I didn’t want to believe it was her,” Ash’s mother cried, while staring down at the memorial.  “I just held her and told her I loved her until the ambulance came.”
 
Quick said Ash’s suicide was the result of years of bullying, which became worse when Ash decided she wanted to transition from female to male and be referred to using the pronoun “he.”
 
“Ash had been so strong for years,” said Quick.  “Ash started enduring the most bullying when she cut her hair short.”
 
Ash committed suicide in the same way Ohio transgender teen Leelah Alcorn did just months ago. Alcorn was born Joshua Alcorn.  In a suicide note posted online, Alcorn pleaded, “fix society.” 
 
Quick said firmly that she supported Ash’s decision.  She showed Channel 9 a picture taken of her and Ash together at Charlotte Pride this past summer.
 
But the acceptance reportedly didn’t come full circle.  Quick said she found a suicide note on Ash’s IPAD that read in part;
 
“Please be WHO YOU ARE... Do it for yourself. Do it for your happiness. That's what matters in YOUR life.  You don't need approval on who you are.  Don't let people or society change who you are just because they're not satisfied with your image."
 
Friends of Ash tried to echo that message during a memorial service Friday night outside Porter Ridge High School, where Ash was a student. A large group circled the school rock, which was painted with a rainbow in honor of Ash.  Family and friends lit candles, shared memories of the teen and pleaded for acceptance of all people.
 
Posts by friends and classmates on social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram also said the teen was a victim of bullying.
 
During the memorial service, the school’s principal said the district is fully cooperating with investigators as they dig deeper into Ash’s death.  The principal told Channel 9 he was limited in what he could say about potential bullying at that point in time. 
 
Channel 9 contacted the Union County sheriff, who confirmed the department is investigating the case as a suicide.
 
A memorial service will be held for Ash on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Home in Indian Trail.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Time Out Youth, 2320 N. Davidson St., Charlotte, NC 28205 or phone 704-344-8335.

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