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When the physician can't heal herself; mentor to girls commits suicide at 22

Karyn Washington, mentor to young women, commits suicide.
Karyn Washington, mentor to young women, commits suicide.
photo: Karyn Washington via Facebook

In a cruel twist of irony, it was reported yesterday that Karyn Washington, 22, CEO and founder of For Brown Girls, has committed suicide. Washington was known for battling the stigma sometimes attached with being a dark-skinned young woman in today’s society. She wrote pieces and reached out to her fans and followers encouraging them to be the best they could be and to be true to and proud of themselves because there is beauty in all of us.

Upon founding For Brown Girls, Washington said that her purpose was not to discriminate, but to empower and uplift all young girls and women, especially those often singled out. And according to the posts and comments of thousands of the followers of her Facebook page, that is exactly what she did. She created For Brown Girls in response to rapper ASAP Rocky’s comments in an interview saying that dark girls shouldn’t wear red lip stick.

One of her friends, writer and editor, Ty Alexander, shared yesterday some emails they’d shared a mere six months ago. Even though her own mother was battling cancer, Washington reached out to Alexander when Alexander’s mother passed. They continued to check up on each other. Washington was apparently suffering from depression and difficulty in coping with the loss of her mother. Blogger Aliyah, a childhood friend talked about how even when they were little, Washington was drawn to help those who seemed lonely or lost.

Sometimes the strongest warriors also carry the burden of the biggest pain hidden inside. When the masses look to you for help, it can be easy to be so busy that you don’t have time to take care of you. By all accounts, Washington was aware of her depression and was doing all the right things (seeking help, attending grief groups, etc.) in an effort to get assistance. No one but Washington knows what finally made it all too much.

For those young girls and women that remain, if you or anyone you know even hints that they cannot take it anymore, please share with them the National Suicide Prevention 24-hour hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They can also be reached at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.