In his first TV interview since his 15-year-old daughter’s suicide last January, Phoebe Prince’s heartbroken father has spoken of his unthinkable grief – and his surprising sympathy for her alleged tormentors.
“It’s hard enough to believe it’s happened,” Jeremy Prince, 66, says in a new Irish documentary, The Trials of Phoebe Prince. “You keep waking up and thinking it’s a dream.”
He adds: “I mean, to go from the last time I’d seen Phoebe, and getting a great big hug before I left and a ‘Daddy, I love you,’ to seeing her riding in a coffin.”
Prince choked back tears as he looked at family photos, including a touching shot of him and Phoebe in a tender embrace and another of the family from last Christmas, weeks before her death.
“She loved writing. She loved the seaside. She loved talking, nonstop and very often,” he says.
But life wasn’t always easy for Phoebe. In 2009, after she was bullied at boarding school in Ireland over her relationships with boys, her parents move the family – which included younger sister Lauren – to America to see if that would be a better place for them.
“It was experiment, but of course it went hideously wrong,” Prince says now.
Sympathy for Phoebe’s Bullies
Starting school in South Hadley, Mass., in August 2009, Phoebe was initially a popular girl, but soon things began to fall apart. She allegedly began getting bullied again, and in November she swallowed a bottle of pills.
Phoebe’s father says that was a “cry for help,” and “not a genuine suicide attempt.” But in January, Phoebe hanged herself in a stairwell of the family’s rented house.
Six South Hadley teens have been charged in connection with Phoebe’s death, and are awaiting trial dates. But Jeremy Prince has voiced his compassion instead of anger.
Echoing an interview he gave this summer, he says the teens have “already in some ways been punished,” and that he sees little benefit in making an example out of them. But that outlook didn’t come easily.
“There is no healing in anger, and there’s no healing in revenge,” Prince says. “The only real healing long-term can come from finding the ability to forgive.”
He adds: “That right there has been my focus from the start. And believe me, it’s bloody hard.”