What follows is a verbatim copy of a letter sent by Toran’s mother to Polly Gillespie at the ZM radio station. I feel it deserves as much attention as it can possibly receive, so please read on and consider going along if you are able to do so.
From: Maria Bradshaw
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 6:50 AM
To: Polly Gillespie
Subject: Toran Henry
I’m Maria Bradshaw, the mother of the 17 year old boy Toran Henry who committed suicide nearly 4 weeks ago.
You may have seen in the news that I found my baby hanging in our garage after he had been let down by his school and told by mental health services that he should take prozac and could drink alcohol in the weekends.
Its a long story and much more has to come out about it. The most reliable information about it has been in the Sunday News over the past few weeks.
Polly, I am a single Mum. Toran is my only child and the only child I will ever have. I have raised my beautiful boy alone for 17 years and 10 months. There are no words to describe how I feel about him – I simply adore him and have devoted my life to him. I know how much you love your children Polly but you cannot in your worst nightmares imagine how it feels, not only to have your child suddenly disappear from the world but to have found him hanging in what was a totally preventable death.
There is currently an inquiry into the way he was treated by his school but even though I am his mother, I have no right to a copy of the report that will be produced from the inquiry. The school have been allowed to do an internal inquiry and I am not even listed as a stakeholder in the inquiry. Similarly, youth mental health services have been allowed to conduct an internal inquiry which is not allowed to investigate the actions or competence of those who dealt with my son. Even the coroners inquiry is only allowed to make recommendations but not to hold acccountable those who killed my baby.
To say my life has been destroyed, that I live in hell is such an understatement the words are meaningless. I have loved and nurtured my treasured son for nearly 18 years and his loss is quite simply unbearable. Can you imagine being asked if you want your adored child buried or cremated and having to choose a coffin for him?
I dont know if you are aware of how many children have died under the care of youth mental health services or that a report was recently released showing 42% of children are bullied by teachers at school. The government keeps allowing these agencies to conduct confidential, internal inquiries and our children keep dying.
It will be Toran’s birthday on 13 May. He was born at 11.54am. There is a planned march down Queen street at 11.54am on 13 May. The march is to commemorate Toran’s birthday but more than that, it is to tell the government that we are sick of internal inquiries that do nothing to prevent the horrific rate of child deaths under the care of mental health services.
My son will never have children. I will never be a grandmother. On the day my son died, I realised the simple truth that the meaning of life is to watch your children and grandchildren grow up. Nothing else matters – my career, my house, money in the bank – all meaningless without my baby to share it with. His wardrobe is full of the toys he had as a small child. I was saving them for my grandchildren so I could tell them “this was your daddy’s teddy when he was little.” Now they sit there with no place to go.
The march is not just for Toran but for all our children, our grandchildren, our neices and nephews. It is a call for an independent inquiry into what we are doing to our children in NZ.
If you want more information about Toran please search on his name in youtube and watch the DVD I made for his funeral called Toran Henry from Mum and the one his friends made for him called RIP Toran Henry. For information on the march, please look at www.toran.co.nz
His bebo page, which has nearly 26,000 hits will show you how loved he is.
I am writing to you to ask if you would publicise the march. My son was a bright, happy little boy, just as im sure your children are. I would never in my worst nightmare have thought this would happen to me and to my beautiful Toran. I dont ask you to do this for Toran (although I bet you wont be able to watch his youtube video without crying) but for your children and the children of your friends.
Please Polly, help me get the word out about Toran’s birthday march. We need to make it a big event to make the government listen.
Thank you so much.