Tattoo Artist and Activist Daisy Coleman Dead at 23 - Tattoo Ideas, Artists and Models

Daisy Coleman, one of the main subjects of Netflix’s 2016 documentary, “Audrie & Daisy,” died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on August 4. Her body was discovered by police who were sent to her home by her mother Melinda during a welfare check. She passed away in Lakewood, Colorado, where she was working as a tattoo artist at Phoenix Tattoo Company in Denver.

Melinda shared the news on her Facebook page, writing, “She was my best friend and amazing daughter … I wish I could have taken the pain from her! She never recovered from what those boys did to her and it’s just not fair. My baby girl is gone.”

Coleman gained international attention in 2013, after her sexual assault case was publicized to the masses. In 2012, Coleman was 14-years-old when she was sexually assaulted by Matthew Barnett, a then 17-year-old who was known for being the grandson of former Missouri State Representative Rex Barnett. Despite a hospital exam that confirmed Coleman had been raped, Barnett was let off easy, only receiving two years probation. Coleman, on the other hand, was subjected to relentless harassment and victim blaming. The bullying went on for years and in 2014, Coleman was hospitalized after attempting to take her own life. She shared her story in Netflix’s 2016 documentary “Audrie & Daisy,” which also showed her cofounding the organization SafeBAE and her journey to become a tattoo artist.

SafeBAE was co-founded by Coleman, Jada Smith and Ella Fairon, who were all sexually assaulted in high school, as well as Coleman’s older brother Charlie. They created the organization to educate middle and high school students about healthy relationships, dating violence and sexual assault. Their goals are to raise awareness about sexual assault, provide information about Title IX and provide education to students nationwide.

In addition to working with SafeBAE, Coleman was also a burgeoning tattoo artist. During the 2016 documentary, we saw the beginning of Coleman’s tattoo journey, with her inking semicolons at a SafeBAE event.

In 2019, Coleman was interviewed for our May issue and she shared that she was working on another documentary, which was directed, produced and shot by Fairon. The documentary, titled “Saving Daisy,” documents Coleman’s healing and showcases her undergoing a therapy treatment called EMDR. This treatment was used to help Coleman sort through layers of trauma, which included her assault, years of online bullying, the passing of her younger brother in 2018 and the passing of her father in childhood.

“EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing,” Coleman shared. “It helps both sides of your brain process the traumas you’ve been through. A PTSD mind has layers of trauma and only processes things with portions of your mind, making the EMDR impactful in understanding those traumas and processing them in a logical way.” Coleman’s goal of undergoing EMDR was to help her heal from her trauma and be able to live a happier, healthier life going forward. She had aspirations of growing as a tattoo artist and she saw herself working as an artist decades down the road. “I think in one, five, and even 10 years, I’ll still be focusing on how to grow as an artist,” Coleman shared. “I don’t think I’ll ever be amazing enough to stop learning and thriving, and that’s all I can really ask for in this life.”