ELBA, Ala. (WDHN) — Last Wednesday, Shanea Williams left her home early to go to her husband’s job site. When they returned that morning, she found her 14-year-old daughter Shanaiya had shot and killed herself while getting ready for school.
“I can’t eat, I can’t sleep,” Shanea said. “Everything you would dread, I’m going through it. I raised that baby and protected her every chance I could.”
Shanea said that as a student in Elba City School her daughter didn’t feel protected, especially in high school. Starting in 2020, she noticed her daughter, who was 11 at the time, had been going through a hard time during the school day and had scars and cuts on her arm – which Shanea said were signs of bullying.
“We went to a mental health doctor’s appointment, and she told us there because she didn’t want to tell us at home and get all upset,” Shanea said.
Doctors prescribed Buspar, a common medication to treat anxiety. She told her mom that students made fun of her because of the “side effects” it caused her — coughing, sneezing and vomiting during class.
“Some of those students were just germophobic,” Shanea said. “I feel like her whole class was picking on her, saying, ‘we will find out if she is pregnant or not,’ or ‘I don’t want to be her friend because she is sick all the time’ and just saying a lot of harmful and cruel things.”
In 2021, she was admitted to a Luverne Hospital for mental health treatment. Around that time, the Williams informed school officials – such as Wynn Grimes, the principal at the time – about their daughter’s condition.
“I told him she just got out of the hospital, and she told me she wants to kill herself,” Shanea said. “You trust these schools to protect your children and when they don’t what do you do?”
Since then, Shanea said little to nothing has been done about bullying.
“Not that I can tell; she was still being bullied,” she said.
Shanea said after three years of bullying and no action from the school, her daughter was finally pushed over the edge this school year.
On the second day of school, Shanea said her daughter came home and said that the new principal, Dr. Warren Weeks, made her take off a hoodie she was wearing — although there was no rule against it.
Shanaiya said she didn’t want to remove it because she had a tank top on underneath and didn’t want to show her scars, but Dr. Weeks tried to take the hoodie off himself, according to Shanea.
“I am pretty sure her thoughts were, ‘Not this again; I do not want to get bullied again,'” Shanea said.
Shanea said her daughter was the farthest thing from a bully. She said Shanaiya was kind and talented, playing trombone in the school band.
“She could draw; she was the best drawer I knew, and she would read from sunup and down if you would let her,” Shanea said.
WDHN wanted to speak with the Elba High School Principal Dr. Warren Weeks and we were referred to the district office.
The superintendent Chris Mosely said they are not going to comment at this time as they have a legal team investigating the matter.
The funeral for Williams will be Thursday afternoon at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church at 1 p.m.
If you would like to donate to help the family, they have a GoFundMe.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, there are crisis lines available 24/7 at 988.