Mitchell Wilson was not delivered an easy hand in life.
Three years ago, when Mitchell was 8, his mother died of cancer.
Not long afterwards, Mitchell himself was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. The diagnosis was bleak: he was eventually going to lose all mobility and end up in a wheelchair. His lifespan was going to be severely reduced.
Mitchell, despite everything, was optimistic. He tried to keep the beast at bay. His doctors told him that when it came to his mobility, he had to “use it or lose it” — so he used it. He walked. He walked six times a day around his neighborhood, trying to maintain his muscular function. Walking became harder and harder; at school he used a walker. But he fought.
Then another child, a troubled child, a child who for some reason needed an outlet for his own rage and anger decided that because Mitchell was weaker, because he was different, that he was an easy target. Mitchell was out with his father’s iPhone, listening to music and calling home about supper, when the 12-year-old bully decided to take the phone as his own. He jumped Mitchell. He pounded him. He slammed Mitchell’s head so hard into the pavement that his teeth broke.
The bully was arrested the next day and ordered to stay 500 meters away from Mitchell — an order he didn’t always obey. The school board transferred the offender to another school, but the bully’s friends remained behind to constantly torment Mitchell, following him home, demanding to know why Mitchell was taking their friend to court.
Mitchell began suffering anxiety attacks. School was no longer fun or interesting for the boy; instead, he told his father he’d rather die than keep going back.
The school tried to help. They gave him counselling; they assigned a grade 8 student to be his protector. But Mitchell was declining, physically and emotionally. The attack and subsequent ongoing stress were weighing on him heavily. He didn’t want to walk alone anymore. His physical health declined, and the wheelchair loomed. He became more reserved. He did not want to return to school this fall. And he did not want to face his bully again. But at the beginning of September he was notified: a court date was ahead, one where Mitchell was going to have to testify against his attacker.
A few days later, on the first day of school, Mitchell’s father walked in to his bedroom and found Mitchell’s body. Mitchell had killed himself in the night. Whether it was because of his anxiety and fear over the bullying, or the terrifying degeneration of his body due to disease, or another reason, we will never know. But something caused Mitchell to not want to face another day.
The bully still goes to court next week. However, without Mitchell there to tell his story, the charges will probably be dropped. Still, Mitchell’s family plan to deliver their victim impact statements, in a desperate hope to get through to this boy and perhaps even to his family, to make him understand what he set in motion, to make him realize that sometimes, things are permanent, to make him think before he torments another child.
Today, his heartbroken father remains trying to put the pieces of his life back together. “It goes without saying I miss him every day. I love him. I hope he’s OK.”
Photo credit: Trix0r on Flickr