A 13-year-old boy took his own life last Thursday after being severely bullied in school. In a letter he wrote that’s now being shared on social media, he also claimed his school did nothing to stop the bullying, as reported by the New York Daily News.
Daniel Fitzpatrick, who lived in Staten Island, New York, was often bullied about his weight and grades at Holy Angels Catholic Academy in Brooklyn–both physically and emotionally. When he asked his teachers and principal for help, only one teacher actually helped him. Meanwhile, boys threw balls at him during gym class, and one teacher called him “lazy” in front of the class. He wrote:
“I gave up. I begged and pleaded [for help].”
You can read his full letter here:
Just days before his 14th birthday, Daniel tragically hanged himself in his family’s attic. The family claims the school had sent child welfare workers to investigate the family instead of going after the bullies. When the officials came to the house, Fitzpatrick told them, “I just want a friend.” In the end, the investigation didn’t find his parents had abused him. When his grades had suffered that year, the school suggested he repeat seventh grade somewhere else.
These tragic events lead to his dad, also named Daniel Fitzpatrick, to open up about his son’s death on Facebook.
Fitzpatrick choked back the tears as he said in two separate videos:
“To the parents of the boys that tormented my son, all I have to say is that I hope you never never have to feel what my family is going through right now. You get to hold your children for the rest of your lives and their natural lives. I don’t get to do that anymore…No parent should have to bury their child. No child should have to go through what my son went through.
The choice that my boy made is an answer, but it’s not the right answer. Don’t let anybody demean you because of the way you look, the way you feel — you matter. You do matter.”
He said he was often told about his son, “He’ll be fine,” and his son was often told that he just had to “try harder, Danny.” Meanwhile, Brooklyn/Queens diocese spokeswoman Carolyn Erstad released a statement in the newspaper:
“In light of this tragedy we are reexamining all bullying prevention policies and training. The principal, teachers, and staff of Holy Angels Catholic Academy are heartbroken over the loss of Danny Fitzpatrick. We take the issue of bullying very seriously and address every incident that is brought to our attention.”
According to the Daily News, however, Erstad said the school did everything it could to stop the bullying, as Fitzpatrick received three counseling sessions at school, which was the maximum he could receive without his parents’ consent (although the family says they sought professional help):
“When the counselor reached out to Danny’s parents to get consent for continued counseling, the parents refused.”
As of now, Fitzpatrick’s family has started a GoFundMe account to raise money for funeral expenses. In two days, it has raised more than $100,000, and only had a goal of $10,000. On the site, Daniel’s sister Eileen wrote:
“We want to give Daniel a proper memorial, as well as shine a bright light on the bullying that killed him. We have every intention to help other families never go through what we are going through.”
Any extra funds will be donated to charities that fight bullying and promote suicide awareness. Our thoughts are with the mourning family.