While the entertainment world comes to grips with the apparent suicide of television pioneer Don Cornelius, the family and friends of 17-year-old Ashley Duncan, along with teen actress Keke Palmer, are reeling from her death, believed to be the result of a self-inflicted gun shot wound.
Duncan's death followed days of suicidal references made by the teen on her Twitter and Tumblr pages, including a photo of a gun with a caption that read "I finally got a gun," Houston's FOX 26 reports.
Like Duncan's classmates, who told FOX 26 they believe her death is "a wake up call" to heed warnings of suicidal behavior, Palmer took to Twitter to urge other teens to steer clear of drugs, which can lead to depression, and to speak up about issues they're having that may lead to suicidal thoughts.
Palmer addressed comments on Duncan's Tumblr page that may indicate she was taking the drug ecstasy, saying "People don't realize that ecstasy causes depression," a connection that scientists have explored in various studies.
She went on to highlight her own issues with self-esteem in a tweet that said: "I think I'm BEAUTIFUL! I didn't start feeling that way completely until I liked the person on the INSIDE, and that's real."
Duncan's suicide follows that of 18-year-old student Ashley Billasano, from nearby Rosenberg, Texas, who sent 144 tweets expressing her pain and grief before killing herself in November.
"Parents should pay more attention to their kids, and kids should talk, not text," Duncan's mother told FOX 26.
On Twitter, Palmer made a plea to her followers -- "Please people speak up if you're struggling with anything!!" she said -- while suicide prevention advocate Bill Berger stressed the importance of doing so face-to-face, and not online.
"A lot of times, people do have that one final outburst of a call for help," he told the Daily Mail. "In the olden days, you had to talk face to face. Now we have this wall of protection called the Internet and I think it's easier for people to release their feelings," he said.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or visit stopbullying.gov. You can also visit The Trevor Project or call them at 866-488-7386.
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