The tragic suicides of two Black teenagers prompted calls for more mental health services in one of the most neglected communities.
16-year-old Mikayla Miller (right) was found hanged from a tree just steps away from her apartment in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.
Mikayla’s death touched off rumors that she was “jumped” by 4 white teens — two boys and two girls — who then carried her body into a wooded area and lynched her.
Just hours before she died on April 18, Mikayla fought with a group of white teens, including her ex-girlfriend, in the clubhouse of her apartment complex.
She suffered a bloodied lip, police said. The clubhouse showed signs of damage. Hours later, Mikayla walked into the woods and hanged herself with her belt.
Her family said Mikayla was a member of the LGBT community.
State law enforcement officials initially ruled her death a suicide. But pressure from her mother, Calvina Strothers, and community activists prompted police to take a closer look at the evidence.
Tracking her steps on her iPhone’s Health app, investigators discovered she walked about 1,316 steps — roughly the distance from the complex into the woods where her body was found the next morning.
Additionally police traced the GPS signals of the teens she fought with. None were in the woods that night.
“As to who else may have been in the woods or that area on Sunday, we do not have any information as to that,” said Middlesex district attorney Marian Ryan.
Ryan doesn’t believe Mikayla’s death was the result of foul play.
A week later, Saniyya Dennis, a 19-year-old Buffalo State sophomore (pictured), went missing from her dorm room.
Saniyya’s father, former Dipset rapper 40 Cal (Calvin Byrd), offered $10,000 for information on his missing daughter.
At an afternoon press conference on Thursday, police said Saniyya apparently jumped to her death from Niagara Falls after calling an ex-boyfriend 66 times.
A text she sent to her ex read: “I’m not feeling good – I think I’m going to kill myself.”
Surveillance video from Saniyya’s dorm in her final hours on April 24 showed Saniyya throwing personal items into a garbage can.
Police retrieved the discarded items and concluded that she didn’t plan to return to her dorm room.
Hours later, she took a bus to Goat Island where she made a 45 minute phone call to a male friend. The male friend later told police he thought he’d convinced her not to take her own life.
Saniyya sent a text message to her mom telling her she loved her. Her cell phone pinged a tower close to the edge of Niagara Falls.
At 1:22 a.m. she sent her friend a final text message, assuring him she was back on the bus.
A minute later her phone left the cell phone network — an indication that she either turned the phone off or it was destroyed.
“It appears that this poor girl took her own life,” said Erie County DA John Flynn at a press conference on Thursday.
Flynn said her body may never be found because it is likely wedged in jagged rocks below.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.