LAKEWOOD, Wash. -- Just outside Hudtloff Middle School in Lakewood, students lined the sidewalk holding colorful signs with a somber, but simple message. As simple as the words used to describe 14-year-old Gabby Cazares.
“She was loving, caring, unselfish,” says Gabby’s sister Marisol.
Gabby’s family says she took her own life Thursday night. They claim she did it, because she was allegedly bullied at school. Gabby’s family says she had a medical condition that caused her to lose her hair, so she’d wear wigs to school.
“They were calling her names. They were calling her cruel stuff, like really cruel stuff. She was always eating lunch in the bathroom because she couldn’t take it anymore,” says Gabby’s sister Daniela.
Students at Hutloff Middle School walked out of classes Wednesday to protest bullying at the school and to call on the district to do something about it.
Clover Park School District issued a statement that read, in part:
"One of the strategies Hudtloff Middle School students are using to raise awareness about bullying, harassment and intimidation is a walkout. Clover Park School District supports our students' First Amendment rights ... We continue to focus on the health and well-being of our school community at this difficult time."
Daniela says Gabby called home on Thursday, asking to be picked up from school. She says Gabby hung out with a friend, then came home and went to sleep. Later that night, Daniela says her mother went to check on Gabby.
“The window was open, so she sent my uncle to look for her. And when he went out in the yard, he saw her hanging on the tree,” says Daniela.
“I don’t have the words to explain to you how painful it is,” says Gabby’s mother, Marie.
Gabby’s mother says, before her daughter’s death, she contacted the school several times to address the alleged bullying.
The Clover Park School District provided Q13 News a statement via email, reading in part, "… We are aware of the issues that have been raised and will review the circumstances surrounding this situation..." The school district cited “confidentiality of the individuals involved”.
The Lakewood Police Department said detectives are also aware of the bullying allegations and those concerns are included in their own investigation.
Gabby’s family hopes their loss can also be a lesson.
“I feel like there’s enough hatred in the world that we don’t need to hate on one another. We don’t need to do this to one another, we really don’t,” says Marisol.
"Tell the world that she was happy. She helped people, she helped the homeless, she tried to help everybody, but she could not help herself,” says Marie.
Gabby’s family says she would have celebrated her Quinceanera in September. They plan to lay to her to rest this week in her gown.