On Thursday, August 11, 2016 Daniel Fitzpatrick, age 13, died by suicide in his home on Staten Island. He left behind a long message describing bullying at his school and his frustration with the adults whose help he sought.
I did not know Danny and have never met his family. I do not know the school or the other children involved and so I cannot know what happened with any certainty except that a child’s life ended far too early and that his pain was great.
I do know that death by suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth age 10-24.
I also know that young people who are targets of bullying and those who exhibit bullying behavior are both more likely to contemplate or attempt suicide.
As the 2016-2017 school year begins for more than 50 million students in the United States alone, each and every one of us has a responsibility to take action in the face of bullying and at the very first signs that a young person is considering suicide. Please make a plan for how you will deal with such situations – check your school’s policies and resources, talk about what to do with your school’s counselors and other experts, build your relationship skills with each student, know that your actions make a difference, and make everybody feel like a somebody..
We can all make a difference by living love, teaching peace, and fighting unfairness wherever it occurs.