We are shocked to report that Karyn Washington, 22, the beautiful creator of the uplifting website, ForBrownGirls.com has died, due to an apparent suicide. Karyen created the site as an “inspiration destination” where Black women with darker skin could go and feel beautiful. She also sparked the hashtag #DarkSkinRedLipProject after A$AP Rocky boldly stated that dark-skin women shouldn’t wear red lipstick. This was a place where thousands of dark skin women posted stunning photos of themselves in red lipstick to dispel that wicked myth.
It’s being reported that Karyn struggled with mental illness and depression and despite giving all the love in her heart to others, she wasn’t able to give that same love to herself. Yes, Black women are strong, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t need help, or a shoulder to cry on every once in a while.
It’s breaking my heart to report this because one would think that someone like Karyn, a woman who lived her life to uplift others, had it all together. Or was at least happy. But her suicide is evidence that there was something missing. At just 22-year-old, Karyn’s short life is a sad testament to the increasing trend of suicide. According to the CDC’s latest fact sheet on suicide, “The prevalence of suicidal thoughts, suicide planning and suicide attempts is significantly higher among young adults aged 18-29 years than among adults aged ≥30 years.”
Karyn’s haunting words from ForBrownGirls.com are heartbreaking, as her vision has always been to empower:
“As humans, regardless of color, age, socio-economic status, gender, and other characteristics, we MUST build each other up rather than tear each other down in order to change the world and create a better place for our children and future generations. As women, it is imperative as well as our duty to love ourselves unconditionally, smile and laugh often, and NEVER allow ANYONE to steal our joy.”
Who stole Karyn’s joy? Black suicide has historically low numbers when compared to other groups, however between 1981-1994, the Black suicide rate grew a staggering 83 percent. Today suicide is the third leading cause of death among young African-American men. In 2010, over 80 percent of all Black suicides were males. Women (no matter the ethnicity) attempt suicide at a higher rate than men, yet men complete the task at a higher rate. Black women are less likely than any other American demographic to commit suicide. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. We suffer. It just doesn’t always look like it.
A close friend of Washington’s, LiaLia wrote a heartfelt blog, mourning her friend. And in it, she mentioned that she knew a “tad bit” about what Karyn was going through and wished that she could have been there for her.
LiaLia offered the following:
I remember I’d cover my mouth when i laughed. I had just gotten braces and I wasn’t quite comfortable yet. I was the epitome of an awkward little black girl. You told me I could be your brace face buddy. I think that was the first time if ever heard the term “brace face” !!! Lol & it certainly wasn’t the last either. We’d talk a lot about school and other silly stuff that probably didn’t matter much, but you gave me so much comfort. Now that I think about it, that amazes me. We were only in middle school and there you were inspiring me and teaching me to love my brown self in the most subtle ways. It is no surprise that you would go on to do such amazing things. May “For Brown Girls” (FBG) continue to thrive. That will forever be your brand, your movement, and your legacy! You’re amazing and even at such the young and tender age of 22 you’ve touched the lives of many all over the world. You inspire me and so many other people so much more than you could’ve ever imagined. I wish you could’ve seen the true magnitude of that.
When I look at you I see a reflection of myself and most certainly that is why this hurts so badly. From now on I’ll forever remember your big beautiful smile, your charm, ambition, professionalism, entrepreneurship, confidence, humility, your drive, and your beautiful Brown Skin. That is what I’ll choose to remember… because to be honest, I’m a bit angry with you. Indeed I’m being selfish, but my heart is devastated- yet, because I know a tad bit about what you were going through I can understand. I’m guilt tripping because I wish I could’ve been there for you a little bit more. I’m so sorry, but I can’t help but to think that with just a little bit more time or a little less distance, proximity would’ve allowed me to make, maybe the slightest difference…. Forgive me!
No other details have been given around Karyn’s death, but I will keep my eyes on this story. And what a sad story it is. I sincerely hope that someone picks up where Karyn left off and continues uplifting Black women on her sites ForBrownGirls.com and DarkSinRedLip.com. RIP Karyn Washington.