HOUSTON — A 17-year-old Houston teen posted a picture of a gun and made references to suicide online before taking her own life.
On Monday at noon, Ashley Duncan walked to a reservoir near the intersection of Braes Forest Drive and Portal Drive with a gun and shot herself.
By all accounts, Duncan was a popular student at Bellaire High School. She played volleyball and interacted with hundreds of friends between her Twitter and Tumblr pages.
But there were hints that Duncan's life had taken a darker turn in recent posts on the social media sites.
"Life ain't worth the pain. if you know or have known what it feels like to want to die every minute second hour day week month year then you feel me…. I might not struggle financially but I struggle emotionally and mentally and I think that’s the worst struggle," Duncan wrote on Tumblr Sunday. "So in asking why can’t it be my choice to die now? … I’m miserable. One day I won’t be here anymore and that’ll be the happiest day of my life… I’m tired and I’m done with this life."
The same day she posted this ominous statement on Twitter: "It's like God is torturing me by keeping me here."
On Monday, the day she ended her life, Duncan tweeted: "Finally got a gun."
Later, she posted a picture of a revolver and wrote on Tumblr "I’m tired as f*** and ready for this s*** to be over and the s*** I’m referring to is my life! peace."
Friends at Bellaire High said they thought she was joking.
"I didn’t exactly pay attention to it because she would always play around," said Theresa Sosa. "I never thought she was serious."
"People were 'liking' it and not really putting two and two together," said Kelly Fowlkes."It's a sad tragedy."
But in a day and time where tweeting and texting have replaced talking, suicide prevention advocates believe this could have been her cry for help.
"A lot of times, people do have that one final outburst of a call for help," said Bill Berger. "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."
"After that, everybody should take everyone serious," said Sosa. "Don’t ever underestimate what somebody is capable of doing."
Dozens of friends posted condolences on Twitter and Tumblr Tuesday after learning of Duncan's death.
The teen withdrew from Bellaire in October 2011. Friends said she moved to Pershing High School to graduate early.