MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - The mother of a 14-year-old who committed suicide live on Facebook spoke exclusively to Local 10 News' Shyann Malone to dispute recent reports that she says paint her as a villain.
Gina Alexis recalls the day her daughter Naika Venant, whom she claims was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, committed suicide on Facebook Live.
"I seen a whole bunch of messages saying, 'Go to your bathroom. Go check on your daughter,'" Alexis said. "I see a screen shot of my daughter that's hanging and it's showing that it's live with about 600 viewers."
Alexis is accused of being one of those Facebook viewers. The mother of two, though, swears she's never seen that video, and that she initially thought it was a hoax.
"I didn't know. I thought she was playing," Alexis said. "I saw the kids saying it was a hoax. I saw the comments."
Alexis posted a comment herself and accusing her of crying wolf. She said, though, she was only using tough love in words her daughter could relate to.
"So I'm telling her to stop playing games. Stop doing what you're doing," Alexis said.
But she soon realized it was no joke. Alexis said she then tried to contact the Florida Department of Children and Families, but couldn't get any information. She rushed to the hospital and said she ran into a case worker who was in tears.
"I said, 'No, you not crying. This is not true. You're not crying. Get away from me,' and then I ran," Alexis said. "That's when reality started to hit."
Naika died in the care of her foster parents, hanging herself in the bathroom.
"Oh my God. My baby was gone," Alexis said.
Naika had been in and out of 14 different foster homes in the past nine months. Alexis thinks her suicide could have been prevented, and pointed the finger at DCF.
"It's time for the Department of Children and Families to take up for their responsibilities, not just on my daughter," Alexis said. "There's a lot of kids, the ones that are still alive. They are victims as well."
When asked, "Do you blame them [DCF] for your daughter's death?" She replied, "Yes."
"One hundred percent?"
"One hundred percent," Alexis said.
Alexis' attorney Stacie Schmerling of Talenfeld Law said the teen had been approved for a transfer to a therapeutic home late last year, but she didn't get to one because there is a shortage of therapeutic foster homes in South Florida, and this week's DCF's Critical Incident Rapid Response report shows that.
Instead of getting the treatment that she needed, DCF placed Naika in a foster home that was not equipped for her needs and only license her for three days, according to Schmerling.
DCF didn't respond to Local 10 News' inquiries on the case. Instead, DCF Secretary Mike Carroll released a statement saying there has been much work done in the child welfare system throughout the state, and in Miami-Dade County in recent years, but the CIRRT shows there need to be systemic improvements on how to better reach troubled kids.
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