The parents of a young man who took his own life after allegedly having being bullied for being gay published their son's heart-breaking suicide note in a local newspaper "because this should never happen again." The 20-year-old Tim Ribberink wrote:
Dear Mum and Dad, All my life I have been ridiculed, abused, bullied and excluded. You guys are fantastic. I hope you’re not angry. Until we meet again, Tim.
According to the Twentsche Courant Tubantia, Ribberink's parents said in a statement their son was a "sweet boy," and they were unaware of the extent of his suffering until his suicide last week.
"Tim was not pathetic. Tim was strong. And Tim wanted the world to think," his parents also said.
The Irish Times writes that Ribberink, who was training to be a history teacher, had reportedly been mocked on the internet and that bullies had uploaded two fake messages in his name. The first message reportedly dates back to 2010, and a second posted during summer 2011 said: "I am a loser and a homo.”
"We are incredibly shocked by what happened," said Peter Koopman, director of the college where Ribberink was studying, according to the Flemish newspaper De Standaard.
"Tim was a student here for two years and we came to know him as an open, enthusiastic and studious boy who loved to show that he wanted to be history teacher. In school, we have never noticed that he was bullied that badly and that he was that unhappy," Koopman added.
The Irish Times adds, however, that a couple who runs the ice cream parlor where Ribberink worked said he had recently lost weight and had become pale. “The girls used to ask him if he was gay but he’d make a joke of it. If he was gay, he didn’t want anyone to know about it,” Henk and Martina Knol said, according to the newspaper.
Ribberink's suicide comes weeks after Canadian teen Amanda Todd took her own life after having posted a video about being bullied to YouTube.