Danielle Bencze is a mother of four who has been through a harrowing experience that no parent should ever have to suffer: She lost a child.
Bencze’s son, Jack Isenberg, was a kind young man who loved to make others laugh. According to the Union Leader, at the tender age of 7 Jack was diagnosed with high-functioning autism.
This posed some challenges for the boy as he grew. He saw life differently, and because of that and the way he acted, he was often singled out — and not in a good way.
“Jack (12) has high functioning Autism,” his mother posted on Facebook. “Moved here in 4th grade by 7th grade he had enough. Having Autism just makes you awkward and not understand social norms.”
“It would be a lot easier in his life if he was in a wheelchair and people just knew he struggle but they just thought of him as obnoxious or repetitive or too close for comfort,” she continued. “If the school had maybe had some inservices about autism or disabilities maybe kids would get it.”
Despite having some close friends, Bencze said that the bullying her son received was constant. Other children’s taunts and cruelty began to wear on him, as they would have on anyone.
“Jack was repeatedly told Autism was a disease, he was kicked in the crotch and told this way he could not have retarded children etc.,” the Facebook post read. “(H)e was excluded in sports. All he knew how to do was make people laugh.”
His mother said that Jack was a good-natured boy who would often help out the neighbors. He loved his siblings and the family pets, but began to grow distant.
“Everything that I thought was puberty, for all I know, could have been depression,” she said. “They sleep more; their attitudes change.”
But on May 26, Jack went out for a walk and didn’t come back. It wasn’t long before the family realized the horrible truth.
“On May 26, 2018 he killed himself,” Bencze revealed in her post. “He was sick of being who he was and was told it would just make it easier on everyone. The school never told me of half these incidents. You know why because nothing is ever done about them, no one listens to the kids being picked on our there is no repercussions.”
Apparently Jack had gotten into a fight the day before, and one of the kids had told him to go home and kill himself — but Bencze didn’t find out about this until after her son had passed. The school brushed it off as play, but not everyone was convinced.
“Kids are kids,” Bencze said. “Jack did what Jack did. For children, they just don’t have the mental capacity to really understand the weight of their words and what their actions are.”
After struggling through the initial loss she’s experienced, though, she has a message for the world, and especially for other parents.
One of the things she wants is for people to recognize the power of their words, and realize they have the power to take or give life. She also urges parents to instill kindness and compassion in their children.
“As the new school year starts talk to your kids and students about differences and being kind and having compassion and patience and maturity,” she pleaded online. “Understand that no one is the same… DO NOT think this can’t be your family.”
“If I can spare one parent from feeling this I will know Jack did not die in Vain,” she wrote. “All he ever wanted to do was help people and be kind to them.”
Until this tragedy struck her family, Bencze also didn’t know that kids with autism contemplate suicide more often than others. According to Spectrum News, one study reported that 14% of kids with autism think about or attempt suicide, while only 0.5% of kids without autism do the same.
Though it must have been incredibly painful for Bencze to relive her loss by talking about it, her strength and courage in addressing these issues will no doubt help other parents. She wants parents to know what she didn’t, so that they won’t lose what she did.
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