A 13-year-old Staten Island boy named Danny Fitzpatrick took his own life last Thursday, after being bullied relentlessly by classmates at Holy Angels Catholic Academy. The baby-faced preteen hanged himself just weeks shy of his 14th birthday. It was one of his sisters who found him in their home.
The horrifying incident, which is all over social media, happened after Danny tried to get his teachers to help him stop the bullying. His father Daniel says he tried to get the school principal involved, but his son's torment continued. To be fair, one teacher did try to give Danny the support he needed, but it just wasn't enough.
In a highly disturbing suicide note reportedly written last month, Danny details how his family moved away from the area, and upon returning, his old friends became his bullies. According to Danny's mom, Maureen, the boys would call him "baby" and follow him after school, trying to entice him to fight. She told Fox 59 News all her son needed was "one friend."
"I gave up," Danny wrote in his note. "The teachers either they didn't do ANYTHING. Not get them in trouble even though they did trouble, I got in trouble instead. I wanted to get out. I begged and pleaded. I failed, but I didn't care. I was out. That's all (I) wanted."
Perhaps most chilling is how Danny names his harassers in the note, which was posted to Facebook by a family friend.
The Fitzpatricks say their son's suicide was the only way he knew how to shine a spotlight on his situation.
In a hard-to-watch video posted to Facebook over the weekend, Daniel Fitzpatrick heartbreakingly speaks out about his son's suicide, saying "I miss my son very much. No parent should have to bury their child. No child should have to go through what my son went through."
The tearful dad goes on to say, "Children aren't creatures. They're monsters. Disgusting little monsters. To the parents of the boys that tormented my son, all I have to say is I hope you never, never have to feel what my family is going through right now. You get to hold your children every night and day for the rest of your lives and their natural lives. I don't get that anymore. Your little monsters took that from me and my wife and his sisters."
Ugh. It's. Just. So. Heartbreaking. I just keep thinking about how so many people lose here. Danny, who his dad calls a "kind, gentle, little soul." His parents. His sisters, especially the one who found him dead. His harassers, whose names will not soon forget how their actions drove a classmate to kill himself.
When I was 14, a girl in my class killed herself. I still think of her from time to time, and about how much has happened since she died. She'll never know what life as a wife or mother is like, and so much more. I've wished I could go back in time and tell her that no matter what she was going through, life goes on. There is so much after middle school and high school. So much to live for!
It's worth mentioning for their part, the school where Danny was bullied believes they did everything they could to help, including having a counselor meet with him three times before reaching out to Daniel and Maureen, who then said they would get private help for their son.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fitzpatricks during this unimaginably difficult time. Here's hoping Danny's life brings more awareness to the issue of bullying, and prevents this horrible tragedy from happening to another family.
In an effort to "give Daniel a proper memorial, as well as shine a bright light on the bullying that killed him," his family has set up a GoFundMe page, which has so far raised more than $120,000 in four days. If you'd like to contribute, visit the Danny Fitzpatrick Memorial Fund page.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.