Letter to My Child’s Psychiatrist


Dear Doctor,

I wonder if you remember my son… you only spent about ten minutes with him, exactly four days after his first suicide attempt. He was eight years old and he tried to articulate for you the terrifying feelings he’d been experiencing by describing a monster that grew inside him. You encouraged him to draw a picture of the monster and to give it a name.

I hung on your every word, because I myself was terrified and had no idea what was happening to my child. You were a highly regarded child psychiatrist, and I looked to you for answers. In tears, I asked you what was happening to him, how to help him. You didn’t really have any answers for me. In hindsight, I know now you did have the answer to at least one of my questions, but in the interests of protecting yourself and your colleagues, you chose not to share it with me.

I asked you if his medication had anything to do with what was happening. My son had been on 50mg of Zoloft for the past six weeks, having been told it would help with his anxiety. You looked at me and said, “There’s no way of knowing; there are too many factors involved.” Too many factors? This was not an abused child from a broken home, whose life was undergoing a major upheaval. This was an eight-year-old boy who suffered from anxiety and who had never expressed suicidal thoughts before.

Despite this, it was you who had advised that he be taken off the drug a couple of days earlier. The prescribing paediatrician, having ignored three messages to call us urgently the previous week, had since learned of my son’s suicide attempt and decided it was time to get in touch. (A few weeks earlier my son had sat crying with his hands around his throat, trying to choke himself in this paediatrician’s office, saying he wanted to die. The paediatrician’s alarmed response was to turn to me and say, “We may need to increase his dose.” These words send a chill down my spine every time I recall them now.)

But two days after his first serious suicide attempt, I was still blindly trusting the medical experts, so I listened carefully as he informed me that he had consulted with you, specifically, about my son’s medication. Our instructions were to give him half a tablet over two days and then stop. “Stop after two days? That doesn’t seem very gradual — are you sure?” I remember asking over the phone. My husband had been on antidepressants several years ago and suffered from a strange dizzy sensation when he forgot to take his daily dose, so I was surprised at being instructed to stop the drug so quickly, but to our everlasting regret, we followed your instructions to the letter.

Over the coming weeks the entire family would all bear the awful consequences of our stupidity, and of course, my son most of all.

I think you knew what was going to happen to him once he stopped taking the Zoloft so suddenly. That’s why you prescribed the antipsychotic, Risperidone, wasn’t it? Throw another neurotoxin into the mix — why not? You psychiatrists do it all the time, I’ve since discovered.

My son suffered horrendous withdrawal, which lasted another six weeks. The times he raged in anguish, trying to hurt himself, trying to escape from us, were the worst. This happened at least once or twice a day. At other times he would just sob uncontrollably for an hour or more, saying he wanted to die. Then there were periods when he seemed totally disconnected and had a vacant, uncaring look in his eyes, when nothing we said seemed to reach him. Seeing that look in his eyes was almost as disturbing as watching him tear at his skin until it bled. Six excruciating weeks of hell, not fully understanding why all of this was happening, desperate to relieve his torment but not knowing how, grieving the loss of the child we knew and who seemed to be disappearing right in front of us. Family members were pointing fingers of blame; everything was crashing down around us; we were driven by fear and panic.

And how did you and your colleagues support us through this nightmare of your creation? Apart from prescribing another neurotoxin, you insisted that we continue sending him to school. At first, we tried to do as we were told. It must have been more than half a dozen times that I was called to come and take him home, some days he only lasted 20 minutes. I would turn up to find him screaming in anguish, restrained by a teacher, or cowering under a desk, shaking and sobbing. His classmates were witness to these scenes, and were no doubt affected by what they saw. One friend whose daughter saw my son trying to stab himself with a pencil in class told me later how upset her daughter had been when she related what she had seen. I tried to explain what happened each time we tried to send him, and still our Child & Youth Mental Health Services (CYMHS) Liaison insisted, “An eight-year-old boy must go to school!” She organised meeting after meeting with the school principal and his teacher, saying we just needed to work with the teachers to come up with ways to support him at school, as though she believed that we just weren’t trying hard enough. Then one morning I got the call to pick him up and found that the school had already called an ambulance. The rumour went around school that my son had ‘gone psycho’. I stopped answering calls from the CYMHS Liaison, quit work and stayed at home to look after him as best I could.

You and your colleagues’ failure at every turn to acknowledge that the drug he was prescribed was the cause of my son’s suicidal behaviour is something that I will never forgive. You knew, and by withholding that information, you allowed us to believe that our child was in the throes of a serious mental breakdown, that he had something wrong with his brain, that there was little chance he would recover and that he faced a life in and out of mental institutions, a life with little chance of happiness. You took away any hope that our clever and thoughtful son would ever be himself again. The callousness of your actions still astounds me.

Well, our son did recover. There is nothing wrong with his brain. He is himself again, gradually learning to deal with his anxiety but able to laugh and take pleasure in life again. He started a new school, made new friends, and this year was accepted into a special class for gifted and talented students. For this remarkable recovery to happen we had to discover that you and your colleagues in the medical profession either knowingly lied to us or were simply ignorant of the fact that SSRIs can cause suicidal behaviour. Both are inexcusable, because the evidence has been around for more than a decade. I have read books and articles by Robert Whitaker, Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, Gwen Olsen, Dr. Peter Goetzsche and Dr. Jon Jureidini among others, and learned from them the truth that you tried to deny us. I have read the heartbreaking stories of mothers who weren’t as lucky, and whose children committed suicide while on these drugs.

And yes, once we understood how cruelly you had failed us, we submitted complaints through the recommended channels, only to be told that you were all cleared of any wrongdoing. You were deemed to have ‘fulfilled your duty of care’. I called a lawyer to see if we could sue, but was told that since my son did not suffer permanent damage, we would have little hope of winning. Maybe he carries no physical scars from the intense trauma you inflicted on us, but the emotional scars are permanent, and borne by the entire family.

So there is no avenue open to us of holding you accountable for what you put us through. But I want to add my voice to all the others out there who have suffered at the hands of arrogant doctors like you, in the hope that one day you and the poisons you dole out on a daily basis will be exposed for what they are.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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    • It is a great letter and I’m very happy things turned out “reasonably” in the end. This letter will save childrens lives.

      {In 1985/86 my Historical Irish Consultant Psychiatrist at Galway Psychiatric Unit praised my Recovery during an interview. After many years as a hopeless “Schizophrenic” I was now successfully holding down normal work (which was his main ambition for me). He wanted to know how my Recovery had come about.

      I told him that my recovery was as a result of discontinuing the strong psychiatric drugs he had me on. That these drugs were causing impossible restlessness. And they they had also caused my Suicide Attempts. He told me I should never have been on these drugs.

      I asked him what my problem was supposed to have been to begin with – and he said he didn’t know.

      At my next interview he told me he was going on a Sabbatical to Canada; which he did.

      He conducted Research on the drug Lithium (at Ontario) which I believe was published in 1988:-



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    • I’m so so pleased for you! We were given the broken brain lecture over my 17 year old son, and went through a ghastly experience like yours. I can’t definitively blame the drugs. My son says they did nothing, I noticed the dark side exacerbated at dose increases. He’s basically recovered now,and like you I feel anger and shock that people who are supposed to help made it worse, as if that were possible. Well played to your lad.

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  1. Thanks Elizabeth for generously sharing your family’s story. Hopefully another mother or father will read this and realise that a similar thing can be avoided for their child. So sorry that your son was subjected to these careless practitioners and ashamed as a health care worker that this can happen and does.
    I wish your son and yourself a good life, filled with the love and laughter, strengthened by community and connection. Hopefully he will make sense of the memories he has of the adverse times in his life caused by others’ careless disregard of good practice and family focus by finding meaning in this good life.

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  2. Thank you for sharing you and your son’s story, Elizabeth. I couldn’t agree more, the doctors’ and psychiatrists’ and psychologists’ unceasing denial of the adverse effects of the psychiatric drugs is appalling. So glad your son recovered, please give him a hug from another mother, who is so glad he recovered. And so sorry he was subjected to the horrors of the psychiatric drugs.

    I, too, am the mom of a “gifted” child, who a psychiatrist, then later a social worker wanted to get her hands on, because my child surprised the social worker by getting 100% on his state standardized tests in eighth grade.

    Thankfully, I had enough insight into the crimes of our “mental health” workers by that point, that I was able to fend her off, by describing my child’s high intelligence as a “genetic problem.” (Although, I didn’t personally consider it a “problem.”) But I am still disgusted that our “mental health” workers are targeting the best and brightest of our children.

    I also share your disgust at the fact that the governmental agencies are doing nothing to end our modern day, ongoing, psychiatric holocaust of innocents.


    And that the lawyers are not taking cases against these criminal doctors, especially the psychiatrists. I hope your son ends up doing as well as mine did though. My son ended up graduating as the valedictorian of his high school class, and Phi Beta Kappa from university. Glad I was able to keep him away from our “omnipotent moral busy body” “mental health” workers. God bless to you and your sons, Elizabeth.

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  3. Dear Elizabeth- im thankful your son is doing well now that he is out of the clutches of Mcpsychiatry and Mctherapy. Do you know where your sons original anxiety develooed? Sensitive, smart children face so much adversity from climate change, school drills for mass shootings, bullying, etc. Adverse drug reactions are common but they go unreported. I am the mother of a daughter who has become habituated to a powerful antipsychotic drug and traumatized by years of forced drugging in institutions. Because of the powerful lobby of big Pharma and the domination of the disease model of mental illness–no alternatives exist for people when they experience extreme states-even those that are directly linked to an adverse drug reaction. I hope your sons former psychiatrist reads this letter. I also believe that you can report his failure to report an adverse drug reaction. I urge you to stay involved and continue to tell your story. Until NAMI rejects all funding from drug companies and accurately prioritizes trauma as the number one way to combat ‘mental illnesses’ we need all dissatisfied parents to push back and demand better for our family members.

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  4. Here is the problem in a nutshell, and it has nothing to do with race, gender, or identity, but everything to do with capitalist oppression:

    ““There’s no way of knowing; there are too many factors involved.””

    Then this man and the institution, founding principles or scientific model that he represents, is utterly devoid of ANY right at all to be treating anyone.


    “Do no harm.” – If a psychiatrist can not follow medicine’s #1 principle then he has no RIGHT to interact with patients. If too high a percentage of psychiatrists can not do this, then the entire industry is inherently evil as it contradicts basic humanity and constitutes a major danger to public health. Sorry kids- you’ll have to leave your egotism, elite degrees, $400/hour pay grades and Big Pharma perks behind, you are worse than the “mentally ill” patients you treat by legions. Your capitalistic greed makes you the monster we’ve always fought rather than the healer you should be.

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    • I agree, and the fact that these doctors continue to hold such well-respected positions in society truly sickens me. Their status means that they were able to easily dismiss me as a hysterical, over-emotional mother, whose version of events doesn’t count.

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      • The sexism is only 1 facet of the problem, Elizabeth. The biggest slap in the face comes, as you found out yourself, when you seek legal redress and are told there is none because the doctor’s actions fell within the standard of care. They all endorse each other’s malpractice and call it their “standard of care.”

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  5. When will people start understanding that you have a responsibility to first question the society you live in before you question your child’s adaptation to that society? And that children do not need psychiatric meds.

    A psychiatrist gets paid more if he prescribes meds than if he doesn’t and instead takes the time to consider all factors FIRST before prescribing; again here is the impulsivity and desperation of our modern era screaming at us. The profit motive is the catalyst for a psychiatrist’s actions and the fallout is your beloved child’s health.

    And yes, where do we hold these people and institutions to account? The most vulnerable of society are the most powerful, not the powerless. Don’t try to make them so.

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  6. Dear Elizabeth
    What a tragedy, but fortunately with a happy ending. Having a son destroyed by the pharmaceutical and medical industries, you soon get to understand that these industries are all about making profits. They care little about mental health. Very, very little.
    And if you follow the tragedy of the vaccination industry and the effect it is having on the health of our youth, it all makes sense from a corporate profit standpoint. Please see Robert Kennedy’s excellent video on the vaccination profit center: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2204&v=CUjrKBxdI9o
    The very best to your family
    Rick and Elizabeth Fearn

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  7. Thank you Elizabeth Moy.

    I am deeply moved by this testimony.

    Might the concept of “A Letter To” – merit a designated “Blogspot” on this powerful channel of communication, and recording of Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) to psychotropic drugs?

    “Seeing that look in his eyes was almost as disturbing as watching him tear at his skin until it bled”.


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  8. Elizabeth I’m so thankful your son’s story has a happy ending.

    I think the reason the suicide rate is so high among psychiatrists is many still have consciences.

    This denial of the damage psychiatric drugs do is appalling. Patient shaming must stop!

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  9. We all know that Professionals and Non Professionals are not allowed to poison people. The idea that they can poison people or that poisoning people is open to debate – stems from institutionalised corruption.

    When doctors In parts of Europe in the 1930s poisoned people to death, this was also probably “legal”- but after 1945 it was taken for granted that the behaviour wasn’t “okay”.

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  10. wow such a powerful piece and amazing your son survived and is thriving.

    It is beyond belief that we are drugging our children and labeling them as mentally ill and sending them for ‘treatment’. The labeling and drugging of adults is also now completely out of control with ‘mental health awareness’ campaigns actively encouraging people to self identify as mentally ill and seek ‘treatment’ Never to look outside of themselves as the cultural disorders causing our suffering always within at your own faulty/disordered brain, thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and behaviour.

    My own journey was also dramatic and I went from being naturally sad and distressed because of an awful job and a relationship breakdown with estrangement from my dear daughter. I was started on 20mgs Citalopram and went from being sad and distressed to completely emotionally numb and suicidal within two-three weeks.

    I cannot recall writing the note that I left that simply said my name followed by the words ‘is dead’. The idea to kill myself and the actions following it felt so automatic like I was a robot ‘I’ had gone.

    The plan, buy alcohol drive somewhere remote, drink it all and drive head first into a wall. I drank half of it and fell asleep from exhaustion . Thankfully when I woke many hours later the urge to die had dissipated so I drove home to find the police waiting to ask me about the note.

    I have heard this story of profound emotional numbing and suicidal behavior from countless people over many years while working in the mental (ill) health system. I say ill health because it can can do little for those its tasked to help, often causes harm not only to those its meant to help but also to the staff through targets driven burnout.

    We have mental (ill) health services harming mental health – truly crazy.

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    • Sounds like you had a very lucky escape, too, Topher. I am haunted by how easily our story could have taken a different path.
      Every time I hear about a new campaign to raise awareness, or new funding for ‘mental health’ services, I know this will translate into more poor souls unwittingly taking these poisonous drugs. But how do I warn others without coming across as unbalanced myself?

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      • But how do I warn others without coming across as unbalanced myself?

        Well, that depends on whom you are addressing:
        If you are having a conversation with a fellow parent, you will be thoughtful of this as you speak with conviction and facts. This human-to-human interaction will likely go well, as they will likely see you for you: a caring, concerned parent who’s been there trying to give others the benefit of their experience. A lighthouse beacon warning of danger, so long as your message is not so bold as to be blinding.
        However, if you are attempting to dialog with the system, at any level, you will encounter an agenda, and you will encounter tactics they consistently use to advance their agenda. One of the classic tactics is to attack not the valid argument being presented, but rather, attack the credibility of the person making the argument. So, regardless of your efforts, it is establishment strategy to paint you as “unbalanced;” when this happens to you, see it clearly for what it is and do not take the bait. Rather, calmly redirect back to the point at hand, managing this tactical behavior as you would a toddler’s tantrum.

        That’s my best advice on how.

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        • Solid advice. I’d add that there are some “patients” who have bought into the system as it is and will be difficult to engage on these points. I’d also add that the system personnel will sometimes ask if you are “antipsychiatry” or “a Scientologist” or “anti-science.” You want to be prepared not to engage with this kind of attack, and I’d suggest responding by asking, “Why are you changing the subject? I thought we were talking about whether or not psychiatry works?” But of course, anyone who attacks you in that way is probably not really worth trying to convince, as they are invested in the status quo and maybe even making money off of it.

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  11. “There’s no way of knowing; there are too many factors involved.”

    I find that’s a common response from psychiatry. Just read the literature. And then to take him off in 2 days. He/she knew very well what the cause was. I think he/she panicked.

    If you’re an adult and involved with psychiatry, they test the waters first to see how much you know about their profession and the claims they make. If you correct them, they will either act dumb, or respond by saying it’s a complex issue and refuse to talk about it further.

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  12. “There’s no way of knowing; there are too many factors involved.”

    Translated: “I have no clue as a I don’t practice actual medicine. When faced with any form of complexity i.e. humans or asked to provide an explanation for behaviour or reactions, I throw out smart sounding lines to deflect from my lack of understanding and care. Recently the questions I have been asked have become more difficult to answer as the public have woken up to our lies and deception, but please continue to trust me as I have a lavish lifestyle to furnish.”

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  13. Elizabeth thank you for your story. Ian so sorry this was a nightmare for all of you in the family. Harm was done.
    I hope things go better and maybe some folks will be brave and admit Harm was done.
    Not all but many so called helpers were and are harmets for a wide layered reasons. We need to look at all of the system and stop the harming and hurting and abuse and yes st times the killing.
    If one is real and humble one welcomes investigation and evaluation and says this is where I think I blew it, this is what I don’t know. What do I need to make recompense?

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  14. Elizabeth, thank you for sharing you and your son’s horrendous experience with psychiatry. I almost held my breath as I read and was very relieved to get to the paragraph explaining your son recovered and is now doing well. Unfortunately, it is exactly as you say – before we know better we put our “blind trust” in people we believe are experts who can and will help us. Only to find out they are clueless, but even worse – deceptive and arrogant – and instead of helping they add trauma and harm. The final insult is going through all available channels to make complaints and finding out these channels are only interested in covering up and dismissing valid complaints and no one will be held accountable. The harm happening in psychiatry has been a dark secret too long. The one thing we can do is to keep speaking out and spreading our stories to others who still have blind trust in a deeply flawed system. All the best to you and son.

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  15. Thank you so much Elizabeth for your devoted love for your child and for writing your letter to the incompetent psychiatrist who almost killed your son.

    You now have the tools to protect your son and keep him away from psychiatry and i kept my son away from them for as long as was possible like my mother did for me but circumstances arose and as a 39 year old man my son is now caught up and entangled in psychiatry’s dangerous web. i feel he is damaged too by SSRIs and the doctors who caused his mania and prescribed them to him without informed consent have got off scott free as nothing can be proven. So inspiring to read your son has broke free but of course he will be emotionally scarred as will you all as a result of doctors who are supposed to be caring for people who have emotional issues and instead maming them with their quackery. Bless you and thank you for sharing your story!

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  16. The DSM-5® Handbook Of Differential Diagnosis’ (https://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/doi/book/10.1176/appi.books.9781585629992) Chapter 1, Step 2 is titled: “Rule Out Substance Etiology (Including Drugs of Abuse, Medications)” and yet there are so many stories of people being Rx’ed/taking these psychiatric drugs and their doctor denying or being totally unaware that the drugs can cause the psychiatric symptoms they are touted to supposedly treat.

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    • So agree because during the last ten years i have been attempting personally to be drug free and have suffered withdrawals every time similar to what im supposed be ill from. Every cut! So now i am resigned to be a medication drug addict for the rest of my life . i simply cant face the withdrawals when they are unrecognized and similarly my son could be permanently damaged through Seroquel. He is not drug free at present and suffering side affects from lomotrogine and haldol however the doses might be low. He doesnt believe it is so but i see it and helpless i watch on. He is terrified of becoming manic again. Thank you for that Cole!

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      • No Steve they dont and their scriptues dont cover the multitudes of side affects that come with their prrscribing. My psychiatrist looked it up in her book if my vivid dreaming was in fact a side affect of the med which the pharmacist confirmed was indeed and it didnt cover it.

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  17. Thank you so much for your honesty speaking about how shameful and stupid you felt after you realized the truth. And the anger it gave you for his doctors. (I only bring that up because I felt the same way) Bless you and your children, I wish you nothing but the best.

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  18. Elizabeth, First I want to write that the structure of letter and the choice of words is great.

    Second, it really did make me feel emotion and reading your personal biography I had dual thoughts.

    Mostly happiness that you treat them both well and support them with reaching their goals. That is something I think about too much . I’m trying to let it go as the thought that appeared with the polish of your biography is about my folks.

    I want to honor parents and do well, however I’ve over years formed an important mindset. It’s an exercise I do daily to sculpt my attitudes and behaviors and beliefs. I have searched and found ways to have a father and mother in my heart that I love.

    “The chains that bind us most closely are the one’s we’ve broken.” – A Porchia.

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  19. Hi Elizabeth, There’s a group for gifted and talented here in the USA called SENG. I am a member. I learned from this group that kids who are very talented and show this at a young age are often given psychiatric diagnoses. Many of them are given ADHD diagnoses and more.

    Also, I learned that often, kids end up developing unevenly. So while the child may be very good at one thing, he may struggle in other areas.

    To give myself as an example, I was talented in music and math, but mostly, I loved to compose music. I tried to get a job at 16, serving ice cream. I was a total flop at it. I’m a little clumsy and I came to realize way too late that this isn’t a psych disorder!

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  20. This is a heartbreaking story, Elizabeth, and I’m so relieved it has a happy ending.

    My question: Did the doctor you wrote to ever respond in any way? (I’m assuming you actually sent this letter to your child’s doctor, or perhaps the link to this essay.)

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  21. I am so glad to read that your son made it through this terrible experience.

    Sadly my son did not, and he died of his first suicide attempt at the tender age of 11. He was also being bounced around on various antidepressants by his pediatrician and then a pediatric psychiatrist (who spent no more than ten minutes with us). He was also being forced to go to school where he was relentlessly bullied, ignored by teachers, and told to manage himself in chaotic and sometimes violent classrooms.

    In nine days, it will be the day that my son was born, the day he should turn 13.

    My heart is broken beyond repair.

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