Lexi Tomcavage, the daughter of former Big Brother contestant Amber Siyavus, has died in an apparent suicide. This marks the fifth suicide in the small Ohio town where Tomcavage lived to occur within the past six months.
TMZ reports that the death occurred on Monday night. Lexi had been tweeting about the loss of a friend before taking her life: "[I] miss you" and "never been like this before," she had reportedly posted on social media.
Siyavus had competed on the eight season of Big Brother, coming in 7th place. Known for her lachrymose character, fans gave her the nickname "Wahmbler." Hollywoodlife.com notes that she was the only HouseGuest to make it to the Jury phase without winning Head of Household or Power of Veto. She spoke frequently of her love for her daughter while on the show.
The rash of suicides in Perry County has led to demonstrations protesting Perry High School's lack of action on the issue of bullying. Following the third suicide death, around a dozen people showed up on the local school's grounds with signs reading "Never give in. Never back down," in the hopes of raising awareness around mental health.
“This is a significant amount of loss of life for any community and something that you can never really be prepared for and that’s part of the challenge,” said Superintendent Scott Beatty. “For our kids this is a tough time. We’ve talked a lot about this, it’s a tough time to be a kid and the challenges that face them today.”
Counseling resources at the school were increased in the wake of the deaths. The school also began a mental health training regiment which taught students and faculty warning signs of suicide, according to Fox8.
“Recognizing signs and symptoms. When to report, how to report, who to report. How we can help our kids to be eyes and ears to report,” said Margaret DeLillo-Storey, the district clinical counselor.
A billboard that listed the phone numbers of suicide prevention hotlines was also. Some parents did not think these initiatives went far enough.
"They're giving them a pass. They put a sign on their billboard, you know. It takes more," said Johnathan Forney, the father of Kyliegh Forney, one of the girls whose death sparked the conversation.
More recent research on suicide shows the effects of suicide deaths to be somewhat "contagious," meaning that "exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one's family, one's peer group, or through media reports of suicide and can result in an increase in suicide and suicidal behaviors," according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
A list of international suicide hotlines is available over here.