In normal circumstances, Jocelyn Flores’ death would have gone down as one of the many suicides among youth in America. Her story would have probably made the news in her homeland of Cleveland and faded into obscurity after her low-key funeral service. Her family grieved quietly, hoping to deal with the loss without external interference.
However, deceased rapper XXXTentacion’s release of the hit Jocelyn Flores made Jocelyn’s life and death a national story. Fans scrutinized her connection to the rapper, analyzing lyrics like: “Picture this, in bed, get a phone call/ Girl that you fucked with killed herself/ And ever since then, man, i hate myself/ Wanna fucking end it.”
Jocelyn experienced trauma as a kid following molestation by a family member and her dad’s death
Jocelyn Flores was born in early July 2000 in the Bronx, New York City. Her dad, Benji Flores, was a skilled barber, his brother, Daniel Flores, told The Daily Beast.
Flores was four when Benji passed away due to a chronic illness. Not long after Benji’s death, a family member molested Jocelyn. The two traumatic events likely altered the course of Jocelyn’s life as she developed a pessimistic attitude towards life and a tendency for self-harm.
Jocelyn couldn’t explain her obsession with suicide. “My head is just messed up,” she once told authorities. “The doctors can’t do anything for me.” Jocelyn was 12 the first time she attempted suicide.
By the time she stumbled into XXXTentacion’s life, Jocelyn had attempted suicide four times: she’d taken pills, drank bleach, slit her wrists, and combined all three.
Flores’ family said she wasn’t always down; she could be funny, outgoing, and ambitious. However, in Jocelyn’s eyes, the system was perpetually rigged against her.
For instance, her aunt, Brandee Ramirez, talked to The Daily Beast about a behavior evaluation system at Jocelyn’s school that she could never hack. The traffic lights system ranked behavior as follows: Red for bad, yellow for alright, green for good. Brandee said:
“She would always say, ‘I try so hard to get a green light, but I always get a red. I don’t even get yellow. I always get red.’”
The family referred to Jocelyn as Nena – Spanish for babe or baby girl. Flores grew up in a conservative family but strived for independence: she wanted to go out, flirt with boys, and wear makeup – things that her family objected to.
“She wanted to grow up so fast,” Ramirez said. “Not a lot of people know she was 16 years old. She looked like she was 24.”
It’s unclear what happened when Flores traveled to meet XXXTentacion
Throughout Flores’ rebellion, she threw hints that she was struggling mentally. “I thought she was playing me,” Ramirez said. “She would say, ‘I’m going to kill myself.’ Now, when I think about it, the girl was serious. But at the time, I didn’t know.”
Flores saw a therapist, who encouraged the family to let her try out some of the things she wanted. Therefore, Ramirez occasionally allowed her to wear makeup, gave her permission to try medical marijuana, and allowed her to attend several concerts.
When XXXTentacion – then a relatively unknown but fast-rising rapper – invited Flores to Florida, she didn’t ask for permission to go; Flores announced she would fly to meet XXXTentacion, regardless of her family’s objection. “She had balls,” Daniel said.
XXXTentacion, also known as X, had contacted Flores via Twitter because he thought she looked pretty. The family saw the trip as an opportunity for Flores to have fun following a suicide attempt several months earlier.
X would later say he’d brought Flores to Florida for a modeling gig, but at the time, everyone knew that the trip was romantic. It explains why Flores was unimpressed when X invited another girl to stay with him that weekend.
Tensions between the two women flared up when X returned to his residence to find $7,000 in cash missing. Each girl blamed the other, and the situation threatened to turn into a fight. X, freshly released from jail and on probation, didn’t want a physical altercation.
X instructed the ladies to leave and offered to buy Flores a ticket to Ohio. She declined, and after X went for dinner, Jacelyn sent him a message asking whether he was serious about the eviction. According to the police report, X informed Flores that she couldn’t stay with him any longer.
Later, two members of X’s entourage escorted Jocelyn to the Hampton Inn, where she killed herself in one of the bathrooms. The events of Jocelyn’s last hours remain shrouded in mystery. Her family tried in vain to get X to give them a vivid account of Jocelyn’s final hours. Ramirez said:
“I just want to know the last day. Please. Tell me anything. What did she do that day? What did she eat? When was the last time you saw her? Did you take her to Universal Studios like you promised her? What is it that you did with her? What was her last day like? That’s all I asked.”
Flores’ family was unhappy that X didn’t contact them before making a song about Jocelyn
X initially addressed Jocelyn’s death via an Instagram Live session posted a week after her passing. “Great girl, beautiful girl. Wonderful personality,” X described Flores. “Showed no signs of depression whatsoever. When she flew down here, in an unexplained way, she killed herself when she came down here.”
“It was a devastating situation to deal with. I basically got on here today to address her and her family. Because I haven’t been able to contact her family personally. I’m on here to pay my condolences.”
X released the song Revenge on Soundcloud with the following description: “Rest in Peace Jocelyn, I will have my revenge upon the world.” The song’s cover art featured a note wrongly said to be Jocelyn’s suicide note. However, Garette, X’s collaborator and friend, wrote the emotional message.
The song featured the following lyrics: “I’ve dug two graves for us, my dear/ Can’t pretend that I was perfect, leaving you in fear.”
Jocelyn Flores was one of the hits of X’s debut album, 17. Some members of Jocelyn’s family were honored by X’s gesture; most were incensed that he didn’t consult them before profiting from their grief. Ramirez wrote of Facebook:
“[He] didn’t even give us the courtesy [of] saying, ‘hey, I’m going to do this, I hope you guys are OK with it!’ Nope! No courtesy there! Using [Jocelyn’s] death for publicity!”
X’s death during a robbery effectively erased any chance of Flores’ family learning about her final day. Nevertheless, Ramirez couldn’t help but feel that karma had come through for Jocelyn.
Jocelyn’s family has many objections to X’s song, including that the nearly two-minute record doesn’t give an accurate description of the Flores’ complexities. Furthermore, the song serves as a constant reminder of her tragic death, interfering with the family’s healing. Ramirez said:
“It’s like, I’m doing OK today, and then someone tags me on some X story, or likes my picture and mentions X, reminding me that she’s gone.”
Emily Petraglia uses Flores’ name to spread awareness about suicide
X’s death brought renewed attention to his music, including Jocelyn Flores. Fans of the rapper sent tribute videos to Flores’ family, most of them playing Jocelyn Flores in the background.
A while later, Emily Petraglia opened an Instagram account dubbed @jocelynflores_x_x_x. Petraglia updated the page using photos of Jocelyn that her family had never seen, prompting Ramirez to message her.
Emily resonated with Flores’ story because her father had died when she was young, and she’d attempted suicide as a teenager. Then, in 2017, one of her friends killed himself out of the blue, leaving Emily with feelings of regret.
Through her research of X’s fans, she found that many had the same suicidal impulses she felt as a teenager. “I started seeing his following, and how hard these kids were taking his death,” Petraglia told The Daily Beast.
“They were all suicidal. I figured if I was this curious about Jocelyn, probably all these kids were curious too. So, I found photos of her online, and I made the page, for anyone who needs help or is confused or wants to figure out life.”
The response to the page was overwhelming: Petraglia received 15 messages hours after creating the Instagram. Petraglia said she’s dealt with all manner of mental health issues using Jocelyn’s name. “If I have two or three 12-year-olds, I’ll connect them,” she said.
“I might start a Facebook page, so they have a platform to become friends.” Ramirez was initially apprehensive about using Flores’ name, but after seeing the good that came from it, she embraced the page. Brandee said:
“I know that Jocelyn would have loved it. She would have loved that she was remembered, that she was helping people. This was her dream. This was what she wanted.”