'Toddlers & Tiaras' Star Kailia Posey Died By Suicide At 16, Family Says
Kailia Posey, the 16-year-old girl whose 2012 appearance on the TLC show "Toddlers & Tiaras" became a widely-used GIF called "grinning girl," has died via suicide, her family announced.
A one-time participant in the pageant show "Toddlers & Tiaras" on TLC has died by suicide, her parents said.
Kailia Posey, 16, was confirmed dead on Monday by her mother on Facebook.
"I don’t have words or any thoughts," Marcy Posey Gatterman wrote. "A beautiful baby girl is gone."
On Tuesday, her family confirmed, via a statement to TMZ, that Kailia was dead as a result of suicide.
"Although she was an accomplished teenager with a bright future ahead of her, unfortunately in one impetuous moment, she made the rash decision to end her earthly life," they wrote.
Washington State Patrol Public Information Officer Trooper Jacob Kennett confirmed to People that it was investigating the death of a 16-year-old juvenile in response to questions about Kailia, whose identity they did not officially confirm.
"On May 2 at about 1:26 p.m., Washington State Patrol was called to assist Whatcom Sheriff's department to assist in a death investigation involving a minor at Birch Bay State Park," he told the outlet. The part is on the Washington coast near the Canadian border, about 20 miles west of Kailia's home in Lynden, Washington.
The Whatcom County Medical Examiner — which covers both Lynden and the state park — confirmed to Page Six that they are investigating her death.
Kailia's appearance on the 2012 episode of "Toddlers & Tiaras" titled "California Tropic Arizona," which featured the then-5-year-old grinning infectiously in an interview with producers, continued to be a popular GIF for years after the episode aired.
Kailia reportedly continued to compete in pageants in the succeeding decade, and most recently placed as the second runner-up in the Miss Washington Teen USA pageant, as reported by E! News. Her parents confirmed that Kailia had been accepted as a member of her high school football cheerleading squad, according to TMZ.
"She won countless crowns & trophies after competing on the pageant circuit her entire life," her parents added in the statement to that outlet. "Her highly acclaimed talent as a contortionist had already led to professional touring job offers."
A friend told Page Six that they were aware the teen had been struggling with some issues prior to her death.
"We knew she was struggling with a few things, and we all did everything we could to encourage her and help," the friend told the outlet.
But, she added, "We didn’t know what was going on."
The friend told Page Six that their understanding was that Kailia had died on Sunday, May 1.
Kailia had just turned 16 in April and attended her prom on Saturday night, according to CBS News.
Her parents are encouraging people to donate to the newly created Kailia Posey Teen Crisis Intervention Fund in Whatcom County.