Naika Venant's mother: I have to bury my baby
For two hours, Naika Venant broadcast from the bathroom of her Miami Gardens foster home, eventually fashioning a homemade noose from her scarf. The live feed ended abruptly.
Naika, a petite 14-year-old with long hair and a sweet smile, killed herself overnight Sunday while live-streaming the event.
Administrators with the Florida Department of Children & Families would offer little detail Tuesday about Naika’s death, other than to confirm that both child welfare administrators and the Miami Gardens Police Department were investigating the suicide death of “a child … in the care of a foster family.”
“We are absolutely horrified and devastated by the news of this young girl's death,” said DCF Secretary Mike Carroll. “We will do everything we can to support this family and all those who cared for her as they begin to heal from this tragedy. We will conduct a comprehensive, multidisciplinary special review to examine this child’s history and the circumstances related to serving the child.”
In a reply to a request from the Miami Herald on Tuesday afternoon, DCF released a three-sentence incident report on Naika’s death. It said the teen attached her scarf to a “shower-glass door frame” to end her life at around 3:03 a.m. and was declared dead “at a local hospital.”
We are absolutely horrified and devastated by the news of this young girl's death.
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll
One of Naika’s friends saw the live feed that showed her hanging in the bathroom, but efforts to save the girl were hindered by a series of mishaps. The friend called Miami-Dade Police. Officers showed up at the friend’s house. She then gave them an incorrect address in Miami. The residents at that address gave police the address of her foster home in Miami Gardens, Miami Gardens police spokeswoman Petula Burks told the Herald.
Miami Gardens officers found her hanging there — while her foster parents were asleep in their bedroom. They tried to resuscitate her, as did a fire-rescue crew. Efforts to revive Naika were unsuccessful and she was taken to Jackson North Hospital, Burks said.
“Naika was smart academically, loved to smile and [had] lots of charisma,” said a close family friend, Gerta Telfort. She said Naika was her mother’s first child and only girl — and that her dream was to write a book on her life. The girl had started a daily journal, Telfort said.
She also said that Naika, an eighth grader who formerly attended Young Women’s Preparatory Academy, had a younger brother.
Those commenting on Naika’s Facebook page said the death was shown on Facebook’s popular video live-streaming feature Facebook Live. Although it was a feature Naika used frequently, a company representative said Tuesday night that she could not confirm that Facebook Live was what she used this time.
In a statement to the Miami Herald provided by spokeswoman Christine Chen, Facebook said the company takes seriously its responsibility to keep people safe on its site. “Our Community Standards regulate what kinds of content can be shared on Facebook. Our teams work around the clock to review content that is being reported by users, and we have systems in place to ensure that time-sensitive content is dealt with quickly.
“The vast majority of people are using Facebook Live to come together and share experiences in the moment with their friends and family,” the statement said. “But if someone does violate our Community Standards while using Live, we want to interrupt these streams as quickly as possible when they’re reported to us. So we’ve given people a way to report violations during a live broadcast. We also suggest people contact law enforcement or emergency services themselves if they become aware of something where the authorities can help.”
Three weeks before Naika’s death, on Dec. 30, 12-year-old Katelyn Nicole Davis of Cedartown, Ga., killed herself in a 40-minute live video. The video was posted through a site called “Live.me” and was taken down by family members as soon as relatives became aware, reported McClatchy, the Herald’s parent company. While the video was live, viewers saved versions of it and posted them elsewhere, including on Faceook.
In recent months, two other suicide attempts in France and Thailand were thwarted when viewers alerted police.
The death of Naika, a Port-au-Prince native who called herself HotHead Nikee on Facebook, drew hundreds of comments expressing shock and offering condolences.
Three weeks before Naika’s death, on Dec. 30, 12-year-old Katelyn Nicole Davis of Cedartown Ga. killed herself in a 40-minute live video.
Amid a long string of comments on her Facebook page, one note that appeared to be from Naika’s mother described the teenager’s troubled history.
“I was showing you tough love when you misbehaved,” the woman wrote.
A video post from Naika dated Jan. 10 has attracted more than 14,000 views and 104 comments. It has now become a memorial to the teenager, with viewers posting notes such as “RIP to this pretty angel.”
At 9:23 p.m. Saturday night, the person using the name of Naika’s mother updated her Facebook cover to a photo of her and Naika. She commented Monday on the string: “Hours after I posted this, u left me baby girl,” followed by four crying emojis.
Miami Herald staffers Lance Dixon, Charles Rabin, Julie K. Brown, Carli Teproff and Adrian Ruhi contributed to this report.