On May 29, 13-year-old Isabel Laxamana committed suicide by jumping off of a freeway overpass. As if that scenario isn’t tragic and horrible enough, family and friends believe that the suicide was prompted by Laxamana’s father Jeff uploading a video to YouTube in which he punished her by cutting off her hair. The footage was shared just a few days before Laxamana took her own life.
The video Isabel’s father uploaded was pulled down, but a friend recorded it on his phone and uploaded that to YouTube as a cautionary tale against this kind of extreme shaming tactic. That being said, this video is upsetting and disturbing, so trigger warnings all around. The video shows a girl with short hair who appears to be Isabel in what looks like a garage. “The consequences of getting messed up, man, you lost all that beautiful hair,” said a male voice, off-camera. There’s a pan down to a pile of hair on the ground.
As you can see, the man asks the girl if whatever she did was worth it and she whimpers a no. The man then asks her how many times he warned her and she ekes out a barely audible “a lot.” It’s a really horrific scene and certainly raises the question of whether Isabel was living in an abusive environment. That seems to be the assertion the blog Tacoma Stories made when it posted about the incident when Isabel was hospitalized after her fall off of the bridge.
It’s easy to pinpoint Isabel’s suicide to this one incident, Anna Merlan of Jezebel pointed out that we don’t know what else was happening in the young girl’s life and cited a Google Plus update where she complained of being bullied by classmates. Of course, when you’re already having trouble fitting in, having your dad upload a video where he publicly humiliates you doesn’t help matters. That being said, there’s already an outcry on social media for Isabel’s father to be prosecuted or in some way held responsible for his daughter’s suicide.
Students at Giaudrone Middle School have left flowers, candles and other memorial items for their deceased friend and classmate.