A GoFundMe page in memory of 13-year-old Danny Fitzpatrick, the Staten Island boy who took his own life last Thursday after years of merciless bullying from his peers and lack of action by school administrators, has raised nearly $120,000 by Tuesday afternoon.
The page was started by Eileen Fitzpatrick, eldest child of Daniel Fitzpatrick Senior and Maureen Mahoney Fitzpatrick, to help her parents bury her brother and to provide assistance for a group that works to prevent bullying and suicide. Eileen’s original goal was $10,000.
“We have every intention to help other families never go through what we are going through. We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping us and hearing his story,” Eileen wrote.
In a Facebook message to IrishCentral's sister publication the Irish Voice on Sunday, Danny’s devastated father said his namesake and only son “was very proud of his Irish heritage.”
Fitzpatrick and his wife have poured out their shock and pain via a series of Facebook videos in which they lovingly recalled their son, the youngest of four children, who was found hanging by his sister in the attic of the family’s home last Thursday.
The parents have also vented their fury at the teachers and administration at Danny’s school, Holy Angels Catholic Academy in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, who Danny criticized in a heartbreaking note he wrote last month in which he said he was tortured by five boys, and suffered a fractured pinkie after a fight with one of them.
“Mrs. McGoldrick (school principal) didn’t do anything. I told all the teachers. Nothing except one Ms. D’Alora. She was the nicest teacher ever. She understood and did something but it didn’t last long,” Danny wrote.
“I wanted to get out. I begged and (pleaded). Eventually I did … I failed but I didn’t care. I was out. That was all (I) wanted.”
Danny’s suicide has attracted national headlines, and even a supportive tweet from anti-bullying advocate Monica Lewinsky. But the renewed focus on the youth bullying crisis has come too late for the proud Irish American Fitzpatrick family.
A friend of Daniel Fitzpatrick Senior from Co. Donegal, Éamonn Ó Gallachóir, told the Irish Voice that Fitzpatrick, who works for Con Edison, used to spend chunks of his summers in Donegal as a child. His grandmother Kitty McBride Fitzpatrick was a native of the rural town of Strakeenagh, and emigrated to the U.S. when she was a teenager.
“He used to visit with her here for five to six weeks in the summer and that’s how we became close friends,” said Ó Gallachóir, whose family purchased the old Fitzpatrick homestead last year.
“I sent him over an aerial photo of the old home and even sent him a box of Irish turf last year so he could remember the times he used to visit.”
Ó Gallachóir said he was “totally devastated” when he heard the news of young Danny’s suicide. “I’m so used to seeing his face on Facebook so often,” he added.
Daniel Fitzpatrick posted a photo on his Facebook page of young Danny wearing a hoodie produced by the Irish band The Pogues for their CD Pogue Mahone – which translates to “kiss my ass.”
“Here is a message to all the bullies, and to the people who are making comments. Read my son's jacket,” Fitzpatrick wrote on top of the photo.
He also said that the family has been heartened by messages of support from around the world, particularly those from Ireland.
Maureen Mahoney Fitzpatrick shared on Facebook that her son’s favorite movie was the Irish American cult classic "The Boondock Saints" featuring Irish American characters Connor and Murphy MacManus. “He has a huge movie poster on his wall in his room of the Saints,” she wrote. The day before he died, he was drafted onto a football team known as the Fighting Irish.
“My son believed in Truth & Justice. Now his family Danny's Shepherds will be....Veritas Aequitas my son. Danny was Extremely Proud of his Irish Heritage, we will be his soldiers. I Love you Danny with all my heart, Momma is getting her Irish up; We all are I promise,” she added.
The Fitzpatricks have vowed that their son’s death will not be forgotten. They say they will fight to establish stricter laws to act as a severe deterrent to bullying because of the tragedies that can result when those on the receiving end feel overwhelmed.
Their tear-filled, emotional Facebook videos are filled with recollections of their son, who always said he wanted to grow up to be just like his father. “But I told him no, he was so much better than me,” Daniel Fitzpatrick said.
The Fitzpatricks say they have been contacted by several children who have been tormented by bullies, and they have urged them to stay strong.
“I got a message form a 14-year-old boy. My son Danny would have been 14 in 12 days. He said he was being bullied and that he himself contemplated ...,” Fitzpatrick said before trailing off.
“And I reached back to him. I sent him a message. I told him and I’m telling him again and I’m telling every child that’s out there. You have to stay strong. You have to keep going. The choice that my boy made is an answer but it’s not the right answer.”
Maureen Fitzpatrick Mahoney remembers her son as “a very kind boy. He was such a good boy. He had a big heart and he just wanted a friend. He just wanted somebody to hang out with, somebody to talk to, somebody he could connect with who was his own age.
“And it just, for whatever reason, I don’t know why the kids were just so cruel to him. And he couldn’t understand why.”
She says that her family will be advocates to prevent bullying and suicide.
“There has to be changes…whatever is on the books now isn’t working. Kids are dying, too many kids are dying and too many kids are being treated poorly and I don’t understand why. If you want to help my son you can start by being a kind person, because he was a really kind person.”
The Fitzpatricks, says Maureen, will do “whatever we can, whoever will help us to create legislation and we can call it Danny’s Law to make these people who refuse to enforce the bully policies they have that are really no good … there has to be accountability. These kids can’t be dying in vein [vain].”
In a statement, Holy Angels Catholic Academy said, “Daniel’s complaints about bullying did not fall upon deaf ears. Conflicts with other students were never ignored. The principal and teachers truly cared for Daniel and did everything in their power to help him. The school provided counseling for Daniel, suspended students accused of bullying him, and met with those students' parents.
"The principal also met, one-on-one, with every member of Daniel's class to work toward bullying prevention and conflict resolution.”
After a two-day wake, Danny Fitzpatrick was laid to rest yesterday at Sacred Heart Church in Staten Island at 11 a.m.
If you or anybody you know was affected by this story or feels they need somebody to talk to, please remember that Pieta House is available to all free of charge from the Irish Center in Queens, New York.
Located in the New York Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, New York, 11101, if you wish to find out more about the mental health and suicide prevention charity or how you can contribute to their work you can call 718-482-0001, email [email protected] or visit their website www.Pietahouse.org.
The Samaritans are also available for those living outside of New York: www.samaritansusa.org.