Just when we thought we'd seen the worst of internet hate, we got a wake-up call. It's one thing to hate on celebrities for the sake of it or on people who do things different than you would. It's something else entirely to hate on a child who died from suicide after being bullied.
When the death of 13-year-old Daniel Fitzpatrick was reported, most of the world reacted with sadness. The New York teenager left a heartbreaking final letter, revealing that he was relentlessly bullied at school — and his teachers reportedly did nothing to stop it.
Daniel was found in the attic of his family's Staten Island home on Aug. 11. He had hanged himself.
Two days later, his devastated father posted an emotional video to YouTube, attacking the parents of the bullies who made his son's life such a misery. The grieving dad — also named Daniel — poured his heart out in an 18-minute-long video, which isn't always easy viewing. But it's exactly what all of us need to watch.
Seriously, if you don't have a lump in your throat watching this video, there's something wrong with you. And if you do, be prepared for the comments section to tip you over the edge. Some of them are brutal. Who even writes "note to self: don't have a kid who is a pussy" in the comments section of a video posted by a father whose teenage son has died from suicide?
Giving attention to what can only be described as internet scum isn't something we particularly want to do. But in this case, the message is crucial. Our kids will be bullies if we are bullies. Kids copy what we do. For many, many years, they don't know any better and accept anything their parents do as the thing to do. Even bullying — online or in real life.
Every child should watch Daniel Fitzpatrick's video. Every parent should watch it too. It's only by sharing this type of thing, directly from the people who deal with such tragedy, and exposing those who think it's OK to react with cruelty, that we'll ever have a chance of putting a stop to bullying.
The Danny Fitzpatrick Memorial Fund has raised $119,957 at the time of publication.
If you're worried about yourself or a loved one, call the National Suicide Prevention lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
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