Shauntiana Autrice Stafford, a 17-year-old student at Flagler Palm Coast High School, took her life Monday evening at her home at Madison Green Apartments, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
FPC faculty got to work this morning to an email from Bob Wallace, the principal, informing them of the student’s death. The district’s crisis-response team was dispatched to the school, with counselors and psychologists ready to speak with students, faculty or parents about the loss. The team will remain at the school as needed, a school official said. Wallace was preparing to send a message to parents by phone and email later in the day, asking them to be aware of signs of grief in their children and to be in contact with the school if necessary.
Stafford’s is the third Flagler County teen’s death by suicide in the past 18 months, going back to the death of 17-year-old Timothy Daniel of Matanzas High School in late July 2017 and 18-year-old Nick Urban who had just graduated from Matanzas, last September.
Stafford’s mother, who had just gotten home, called 911 at 9:01 p.m. Monday saying her daughter was trying to hang herself. Her daughter was in her bedroom closet, had no pulse and had an electrical cord wrapped around her neck. Her mother was administering CPR when deputies, followed by paramedics, arrived.
Her mother told deputies she’d last checked on Stafford around 7:15 p.m. when she called from work and asked her son to look in on her. Her son told her Stafford was on the phone with her grandmother, and he went back to watching television. He did not hear anything unusual in the room. Her mother explained to authorities that her daughter had been “going through depression over the past few years over being bullied at school,” according to the report, and that she was upset that her mother was possibly transferring her to Manatzas High School. She did not want to lose her friends at FPC.
A school district official said there are “a lot of underlying issues that aren’t going to come out in a police report,” including long-standing mental health issues: Stafford had been seeing counselors at school and out of school.
Stafford’s mother also noted that Stafford had been Baker Acted on Jan. 9 and held at a psychiatric health facility until Saturday. The afternoon of Jan. 9, 911 notes reflect, Stafford had threatened to cut herself with a blade and said she had access to blades and knives.
Paramedics last night took Stafford to AdventHealth hospital in Palm Coast, where she was pronounced dead by emergency room personnel. The investigative services division took over the scene at the Madison Green apartment, going through the required routines in such cases.
Stafford had once been featured in national news reports: in 2013, Reuters, the worldwide news service, circulated a picture of Stafford, her brother and her mother from Stanford, where her mother had gone with her children to await the results of the George Zimmerman trial in the case of the killing of Trayvon Martin. Stafford’s picture with her family ran in many newspapers, among them the New York Post and the New York Daily News. Stafford’s Facebook page is replete with pictures of her smiling, in jovial, colorful poses, and with bright memes, among them a rainbow-colored “All Lives Matter.”
School Board member Colleen Conklin, who was aware of a student’s death but not yet aware of the details nor the student’s identity, was overcome with emotion at first when talking about Stafford. Conklin for the past several years has been at the forefront of discussions and an organized response to the county’s suicides, youth suicide especially. One of those responses has been the creation of Flagler Lifeline, a component of Flagler Cares, a coalition of health organizations and concerns designed to address health and mental health issues. Flagler Lifeline was created last year to address suicide specifically, in a county that, in 2017, proportionately led the state in suicides. Conklin was at two Flagler Lifelines meetings and community presentations last week, part of the ongoing outreach effort to bring more awareness to the issue.
The school district has been working on its own mental health infrastructure, adding three mental health counselors and a school psychologist district-wide, with an opening for another psychologist.
“We have probably one of the strongest infrastructures in place when it comes to mental health school counselors, not your guidance counselors, but mental health counselors and school psychologists, in place than most other school districts,” Conklin said. The district also added two case managers for students considered most at risk. One of the case managers is a district employee. The other is a Halifax Behavioral Health employee who works in the district. The case managers help coordinate and connect families to services.
“We’ve worked exceptionally hard to coordinate a safety net for students and families in Flagler, connecting outside resources and entities,” Conklin said. “It’s critically important that the message get out there that we want parents and families to take advantages of the services that are available to them.”
“You try to put out all the support out there,” said the school official who’d spoken of Stafford (not Conklin), “and this happens. It’s tough.”
Flagler Lifeline released a public service video featuring local officials and others holding up a series of signs with hand-written points about suicide. It begins with Superintendent Jim Tager holding up a sign that reads: “There is help. People will listen. Speak up & speak out!” Further on, School Board member Andy Dance holds up another sign that states: “Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in kids 10-14 and the 2nd leading cause of death among people age 15-21.”
“Add your voice as we help start the conversation,” the video, which you can see in full below, concludes.
The idea, Conklin said, is “to change the conversation and battle some of the stigma around mental wellness, trying to have people view mental wellness the same way they would high blood pressure or other health issue, trying to get help for that.”
As Conklin was being interviewed late this morning, deputies and paramedics were responding to a house on Palm Coast’s Pheasant Drive where an older man had been threatening suicide–and was not opening his door. Authorities made their way in and took control of the situation: the man did not follow up on his threats, and was evaluated.
The following resources are available for individuals in crisis:
In Flagler: The Crisis Triage and Treatment Unit (CTTU) is a crisis assessment and referral service for Flagler County residents experiencing behavioral health crisis. It is located at 301 Justice Lane in the Brown & Brown Outpatient building at the Vince Carter Sanctuary in Bunnell. This program is limited to individuals escorted to the program by law enforcement between the hours of noon and midnight daily. Law enforcement is able to transport individuals to SMA to assess and determine the appropriate clinical disposition. When required and appropriate, SMA then transports the individual to a receiving facility in Volusia County.
In Daytona Beach: Stewart-Marchman Act Corporation Crisis Center
1220 Willis Avenue
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Crisis Line: (800) 539 – 4228
Available 24 hours.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800/273-8255 (TALK).
If you are concerned for someone else, read about warning signs here. For additional resources, see the Speaking of Suicide website.
Josh Davis says
Tragic. If anyone is thinking of taking their life please know you are loved. Things will get better. Whatever situation you are going through, someone has been through something similar. Do not be ashamed. We all have been depressed and unbelievably low. Please talk with someone, anyone. We are all God’s creatures. Someone will listen. Breaks my heart.
Michael Cocchiola says
No. No, no, no! It takes a village and the village has to have a conversation about this. We can’t let it go unanswered.
Summer wells says
I always felt bad for her , people always bothered her for no reason , I wasn’t a friend to her but I always spoke and said hey to her and stuff and give her compliments , this is really sad . People need to stop bullying on social media and in schools , it’s not cool nor cute . R.i.p shauntiana❤️
Anyone that is responsible for bullying someone should be charged. It is so mean to do to someone.
Many teenagers feel suicide is the only way out.
May she RIP.
Damn bruh, R.I.P
FPC Granny says
My heart breaks that another bright, beautiful youth is lost. Bullies need to learn and understand how their behavior affects others. Rest in peace beautiful one.
Concerned Citizen says
My condolences to her family.
Suicide is such a terrible thing. We lost my step brother several years ago. No warning at all and no obvious signs. We still struggle trying to figure it out today.
If you are depressed, sick or in pain and feel there is no way out please try to reach out. Let someone try to help you.
Concerned parent says
It is so sad to hear these things happening to our children in the schools. WhAt is even more disturbing is you go to the school with concerns of your child being bullied and they do absolutely nothing to help or resolve. My daughter had a problem with being bullied at FPCHS. IT GOT AS BAD AS PRESSING CHARGES ON THE BULLY. my daughter is still the one that got punished causing me to pull her from the school.
Friend of hers says
This is sad I was one of her friends she would always hype me up when I was down and I would always hype her up when she was down we were really close
I also had a problem with bullying at FPCHS and I’ve went to Dean’s, teachers, ect and they wouldnt do anything about it got to the point to where I had to leave school
R.I.P Shauntiana we will really miss you you were a really good friend of mine
So sad may she RIP 💙💜
Born and Raised Here says
These young people are so fragile and very sensitive to everything. Nothing like what my baby boom generation was raised in. Yes we were bullied, and made fun of, but it didn’t seem to effect us like it does today’s generation. What is it ? Is it the way parents raise there kids, like they want to be their child’s friend instead of their parent. Is it lack of responsibility of what today’s kids are expected to be. At 18, my generation was expected to leave home and start there own life, I don’t see todays kids responsible enough to do that. They want to cling on to family and friends, and not leave the nest. Are they the Soft Generation emotionally damages ?
Judy Delarosby says
My thoughts are with the Stafford family. Rest peacefully Shauntiana
That’s crazy, I’ve been reporting bullying since I were in Wadsworth myself and they still didn’t do anything. The district never learned. I’m at FPC now and I see it everyday.
Concerned citizen2 says
As a survivor of suicide in my family, I feel this county needs a support group for survivors as there is nothing available here for family or friends and each suicide effects approximately 130 people in or around the victim. I have also seen where one suicide leads to others in families and groups. Without proper support, how do you think you can stop this kind of chain reaction? We need to help those left behind to stop this cycle.
Rick G says
This is the saddest story I have read in a while and I stay up to date on most everything.
Its sad I see people saying how they said hi and they felt bad cause they saw her getting pick on, like real shit why didnt you report it ? Why didnt you stand up for them? Cause I can bet you didnt, school now and days are full of a bunch of wannabes nothing like back in the day and I mean like 2012 back in the day, people would atleast say something now it just a bunch of try hards who are fake.
This is truly so heart wrenching. To see such a beautiful life go is such a shame. As a fellow student who sees what it’s like in high school and public schools now day in and day out, it’s not something to be proud of. The attitudes of adolescents today is much different than it ever was. They just can’t grasp that bullying is unacceptable, it’s disgusting to know there is someone out there who has driven such a beautiful soul to take such tragic measures. Rest In Peace 😪
This is so terrible. So many prayers for the family. Such a beautiful young child lost before her life began! My heart is so sad for her family and friends. God rest her soul.
Shauntiana was an amazing person she was beautiful, smart, and a loyal friend. Shaunti was bullied for her race. It was unfair to her and she got tired of it she has always been there for me and i wish i was there for her last night.
deovonte allen says
It’s sad how fpc focuses more on dress code than people being bullied. S.I.P😇
My deepest sympathy to the family and friends my heart is crying with you for losing a child is the saddest and the hardest thing in this world, I’m so sorry I’m heart broken
Sending prayers of love to the family , with all my heart and soul
respectfully the Tyler Family
Speak the truth says
This is a personal friend of mine daughter I cannot tell you how sick I am over this situation. Is this what it’s going to take before they stop bullying in the schools? This is such a tragedy and I am at a loss for words my prayers and my heart are with her family who are struggling right now. Please teach your kids not to be a bully and if you have a problem doing so send them my way.
Former Flagler County Student says
Does Flagler County Schools not see a problem? Flagler County is a toxic environment for adolescents. I have watched my previous classmates and friends go through an alarming amount of bullying. Even I have experience the bullying Flagler County Schools is allowing not just by other teenagers but by the faculty that belongs to these schools. I spent my elementary, middle school and high school years in Flagler County and let me tell you there are some brilliant teachers that i was so blessed to have, that helped me get through school, But there are also teachers that when i see make me so scared that i get sick to my stomach, there are teachers that i couldn’t even look in the eye without them threatening to send me to the deans office. My first year in middle school i was accused of not turning in my work, until i later found out my teacher was ‘misplacing’ my work then throwing it away. My last months in middle school i finished my tests early so i didnt have to go to school and face the teachers that were bad mouthing my family openly in the hallways. In my first week of high school I was sent to the deans office because i was told my pants were too tight, In the deans office i was told to snap my pants against my leg to see if they would stretch and make a noise if they did then they were too tight. My last week of high school I was sent to the deans office because crying on my girlfriends shoulder over my deceased dog was too much pda and parents driving by “wouldnt want to see something gross like that” . Flagler County is filled with hateful people that manipulate and shrink students into believing that they are small and will stay in that horrible town forever, its almost like they forget what its like to be 17 and afraid of the future. Flagler County need to take a look at what they are doing to their children and listen to them when they tell you whats wrong. Between the drug problems they turn a blind eye to, to the massive amounts of bullying that happens. These kids are not safe. Instead of firing psychologists and adding more police, maybe you should being getting kids away from these toxic situations and getting mental health professionals that they can feel safe with. To every kid in palm coast who feels small right now, I felt that way too, and i made it through and got out, you have a future, dont give up.
Alphonse Abonte says
This is a sad day here in P.C. to see another precious life gone.Sometimes the signs are there, the concerns are real ,that have gone on for years. I lost a sister to suicide years ago. To start a conversation is good, but to take action would be better. This conversation goes on, but for some it is too late. The conversation apparently did not address the main issue, the bullies. Transfering a problem is the easy way out. The bullies can not win.
May she RIP and her family cope with this terrible loss. Being a teenager is hard enough without all the outside influences
A RECENT Student Of FPCHS says
It isn’t just the students at fault who bullied, SHE WAS MY OLD FRIEND WHO I WAS EXTREMELY CLOSE WITH that took her life because of students bullying. However, FPC is at fault too. They never help students, Shoshana shouldn’t be forced to help students when we have LAZY guidance counselors who can easily stop making their job about ONLY schedule changes. Our teachers are all lazy, or biased based off a student they may like better, and our recent principles are the laziest people I know. SHAUNTI DIDN’T DESERVE THIS. Justice for Shaunti. I will never forgive these bullies, and I hope the worst comes for then. I hope they don’t succeed in life because, this beautiful, and intelligent girl was forced to take her life because no one would let her be. You know, one of the things people MADE FUN OF HER FOR was her dark skin? Racist people made fun of her dark skin because it was “too dark.” EXCUSE ME? YOU’RE SERJOUS? I’m done with FPC, they’re a load of lazy teachers, especially unprofessional ones.
RIP to this beautiful young lady, it broke my heart because we always used to laugh in 4th period. All this bullying needs to STOP. FPC is focused on dress code, more than people being bullied. I love you Shaunti 🖤 it really breaks me down when I go into 4th period and your not sitting at your desk 😔
Mary Fusco says
I’m just amazed at reading these comments how many people are blaming the schools. How about parents start teaching their children right from wrong. How about parents stop throwing their kids to others to raise. How about parents start spending time with their children. How about parents stop bullying their children which is where most of this behavior is learned. Parents do NOT need to be a child’s friend. They need to guide them to be decent human beings. I raised 4 children and I was never their friend. I was their parent. These kids act like little animals and are always out looking for a fight because that is how the majority of their parents react to situations. Teachers and school officials have a full plate. Considering that they have to feed kids, mentor them, discipline them constantly, etc. When my children were in school many years ago, if they acted up in class, they were put out and trust me, the punishment they got at home was worse. No one was ever offended. Wake up parents and teach your children to be decent human beings. So sad that kids have to go through bullying by another brat.
Trailer Bob says
So sad to here of this young ladies suffering and ultimate death. SOOOO SADDDD.
I too was bullied in school back in the day mostly because I came from a family plagued by alcoholism and because I stuttered. Ran away at 12 and basically stayed drunk and high on drugs to cope. That was in the 60’s, so some things never change I guess. If I told teachers about being bullied, I was sure it would only get worse. Now my life is pretty good, so I am glad I stuck it out. But there really is no one around (in your mind) when you get bullied. You always feel that turning in the bullies will only make them torture you more. sucks.
What is Flagler County Schools doing about these children being bullied, from what I am reading they are not doing anything. This is a disgrace and it must be corrected as soon as possible.
Mary Fusco says
The Truth, the problem is that parents do not teach their children right from wrong. Children are not born hating others and bullying. It is a learned behavior, usually in the home. School officials pretty much have their hands tied because parents today will automatically yell discrimination or some other nonsense if their child is disciplined. School officials have to walk on egg shells in order to not OFFEND anyone. These animalistic bullies should be thrown out out of school until their parents can control them. But, we all know this will never happen because of the backlash that will occur. Sad world we live in.
So so sad.
Too bad Flagler schools doesn’t offer any way to access the Halifax day treatment program for kids with persistent mental health problems.
Percy's mother says
Time to start naming names . . .
Name the teachers who bully and/or turn a blind eye to bullies doing the bullying.
Name those in administration who are informed but turn a blind eye to bullying.
Name those in the school population doing the bullying.
Let’s start a forum to call all the above out. If they’re not named and brought into the light for their contributing behavior, then how will things change.
So . . . start naming teachers, administration and students who either bully or do nothing to help those being bullied.
The original woody says
With the amount of principles and asst. principles in each school making big bucks bullying isn’t addressed more.There concern is to keep incidences quiet.
OK!!! How many kids have to kill themselves for people running this godforsaken county to see that there is literally no hope or opportunity here for young people? I hate to say it but the retired/elderly don’t even care. In their minds the young people are “spoiled snowflakes”…HAHA. There was a time where, if you were bullied, you would at least find peace and quiet at home. Now with social media kids can’t escape it. The bullying is with them 24/7 and there is nothing they can do about it. Yes, there will always be mean kids. The problem is, if you defend yourself you get the same punishment as the bullies. The system is so screwed up with the whole Zero Tolerance BS. There’s no hope for kids in Flagler County. If any highschool/college age kids read this I seriously beg you to do whatever you can to get the heck out of Flagler County, whether it’s going to college or move out of state for work, and never return. You can do it! It won’t change. Never has, never will. That’s a fact.
Rest in Heaven Sweet Cousin ❤️😘
When will persistent bulling be taken seriously?
I was suicidal in school too being picked on daily. The adults (teachers-parents) need to wake up and get involved. Don’t want your kids to die from drug overdose or bullying? Do something. Don’t watch as kids silently die inside. If you know your kid is a bully, homeschool or ship off to alternative/military school. The victims shouldn’t have to be Baker acted and wear paper gowns because of being picked on. Send the problematic ones away to a stricter school setting.
JESSICA ARRINGTON says
R.I.P to a good soul. I really didn’t know her that well but i use to see her around in the neighborhood. This situation is terrible!!! I have a daughter and I refuse to tolerate bullying its disgusting. I pray that her family finds the strength to carry on day to day. I can’t imagine losing a child
Unbelievable. I am so saddened by this, but infuriated at the same time. These articles need to expose the bullies. There need to be repercussions to their atrocious acts. Yet, they will forever remain anonymous and without punishment. I am vehemently seething in unrelenting anger. I hope this tragedy weighs heavily on the bullies for as long as they should live. They are responsible. They are despicable abominations posing in human skin.
I really hope her brother and mother are okay. I send them my deepest condolences.
Jennifer Kaczmarek says
Hello my name is Jennifer Kaczmarek, I run Taking Focus, INC., a non profit organization. Our organization is focused on important health and social issues. We document stories to advocate and educate the public. I live in Palm Coast, and I too had a child who went through bullying issues when she was younger. So, I have had an inside look at what it is like to be a parent and not heard or taken seriously. I am looking for help. I am looking for some brave souls who are willing to be photographed and tell their stories. With more stories put out it is a voice to push back. If no one does anything, nothing will change. I understand that the issue is all encompassing and I want to create a larger discussion concerning bullying, cyber bullying, suicide, mental health, media, school shootings. We have too much politics involved and not enough of just wanting to do the right thing. Please email me if you would like to share your story or just be involved. Thank you. [email protected]
Halie s woody says
Shaunti was an amazing and funny women she was always there for people when i lost my uncle i went to her because she was someone i could talk to and trust and she listened to everything i had to say she was bright and smart and all she wanted was to get an eductaion me and her talked about going on a big trip our senior year with Ocean and Gabby and 2 others we where gonna go see new york and now i cant do that because my best friend is gone the person i planned everything with i will never be able to replace her like it’s impossible to lose someone that was so close to you I love you so much and miss you more then you will ever know i will see you again soon babygirl 💖
Hope Of Us says
What this community needs is a support group for family and friends of suicide victims. One suicide seems to always lead to more. It is a kind of epidemic. It has not helped to teach awareness as I know one young teen said she learned there are lots of ways to kill herself. This needs more community attention.