Daniel Joseph Fitzpatrick was just a few weeks shy of his 14th birthday when he took his own life. His 17-year-old sister, Kristen, found him on August 11, hanged with his own belt. His parents, Maureen and Daniel Sr. , were overwhelmed with grief but they didn’t want to let that stop them from sharing his important and heartbreaking story. Daniel had been relentlessly bullied until he saw no other way out.
The teen wrote a multi-paged suicide note that his parents decided to publish. He describes how his sixth grade schoolmates and former friends at his Catholic school suddenly turned against him and how he had been subjected to daily bullying attacks:
“… Anthony took it all out on me. He bullied me along with John, Marco, Jose, and Jack they did it constantly until I went into a fight with Anthony everyone stopped except John he was angry… I ended up fighting John and got a fractured pinkie,” Daniel, also known as Danny, wrote that they teased him because of his weight, his grades, because he wasn’t as “tough” as the other boys. “I gave up. The teachers either didn’t do ANYTHING.”
“My son’s story is now out there for the world to see and for the world to know the pain that he went through,” said Daniel’s father in a voice hoarse with emotion in an 18-minute video he posted on Facebook. “No child should have to go through what my son went through.” In the poignant recording, the mechanic also explained the he and his wife didn’t feel the school treated their concerns seriously when they took Danny’s troubles to the principal. “All I got was and all HE got was, ‘He’ll be fine. Is he in counselling? You have to try harder, Danny. These things will pass.’”
Daniel Sr. also had strong words for the parents of the boys Danny named in his suicide note: “You get to hold your children every night and every 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. Danny was a kind, gentle little soul. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body… I just want to hear him say, ‘good morning, dad’ one more time and that way I could tell him ‘good morning’ and ‘I love you,’ which I did every every day.”
In their deepest grief, Daniel Fitzgerald’s family hopes that with their decision to publish his story, more attention will be directed to the problem of bullying and its fatal consequences. Nothing can bring the 13-year-old back to life. But if others open their ears to victims of bullying and support them, perhaps other children can be saved from a similar fate.