Mother speaks out about daughter’s suicide to raise awareness

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – At Breanna Russell’s home, her smiling pictures sit on her mother’s mantle. They capture the days when Breanna, 14, was her happiest.

“She was fun to be around and was always joking,” her mother Alfreda Russell said. “That and her smile is what I am going to mostly miss.”

Breanna was a freshman at Antioch High School. On September 28, her mother found her unresponsive. Russell had ended her life.

“We told them what was going to happen, what was going on and it happened,” Breanna’s mother said.

Russell said Breanna was diagnosed with depression and bi-polar disorder. She was in therapy and took medication for the condition.

But her family said she was also the victim of bullying both at Antioch High School and on the school bus.

“The kids were always threatening her,” her aunt Sharron Sims said. “I told the counselor that they needed to arrest them and let her change schools.”

News 2 checked with Metro Nashville Schools. They said federal privacy laws prevent them from commenting.

“Regardless, we were of course very saddened by her passing and made our crisis teams available to the school community in the days following,” MNPS Spokesman Joseph Bass wrote in an emailed response.

Breanna is the sixth young person to take their own life in Tennessee since August 1, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“We need to start a conversation and concentrate on our mental health like we do our physical health,” Tennessee Area Director Kat Cloud said.

The AFSP has resources for families and teens.

You can also contact the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Hotline by calling 1-800-273-8255.

Breanna’s family continues to grieve for her and they are planning to turn their tragedy into a way to save other young people.

Her mother and aunt have already reached out to other families impacted by suicide and want to work together with them to raise awareness about suicide and bullying.

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