Sixteen-year-old Mikayla Miller of Hopkinton, a Black teenager who identified as LGBTQ, was found hanging from a tree branch by a belt on April 18, 2021. An early morning jogger found Mikayla's body on a trail in the Berry Acres Conservation Area. The medical examiner's office has determined the cause of death was suicide.

Reports in the Boston Herald and elsewhere suggest that Mikayla may have been involved in some sort of physical altercation on the night before her body was found. Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan says Mikayla's mother Calvina Strothers reported that her daughter had been "jumped" and suffered a bloody lip. Vox reported as many as five people, including a girl with whom Mikayla had recently ended a relationship with, may have been involved in the altercation.

A Go Fund Me page established by Strothers says Mikayla "was an athlete and she loved basketball. She was an honors student and had dreams of studying journalism at an HBCU either Howard University or Spelman College. Mikayla wasn’t a troubled child, she was a joy to her family, friends and teammates. She was never arrested or even suspended from school."

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My heart aches at the loss of a child to suicide. Societal pressure on young people today is overwhelming for many, especially if you are a minority and happen to be gay. Society tells young minorities to be angry and rage against the system. Society also pressures young gay people to step out and be proud. Our young have become pawns in the culture wars and are often discarded by the social warriors when they are no longer useful. They become collateral damage.

Add to all of this a pandemic that saw suicides among young people escalate at an alarming rate. Isolation and a nation polarized by race-baiters, activists, and opportunists have added stress to an already volatile situation for many.

Rather than search for clues as to why Mikayla Miller chose to take her own life, those race-baiters, activists, and opportunists have used her death to spread more hate and greater distrust. Shame on them.

If you're in a dark place, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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