John Krupski, Maria Torza and Jen Peidl never thought the outgoing, funny kid they all loved would kill himself.
Neil James Krupski died January 28, 1996, at the age of 17.
Everyone liked Neil. He gathered golf balls with his grandfather and took his little sister to play games at Skooters.
“Just hanging out was fun,” said Peidl, Neil’s girlfriend.
Krupski faced his share of problems, losing interest in school and rebelling against his father and stepmother.
“I knew he was in trouble,” said his father, John Krupski. “I kept telling him to stay away from drugs and alcohol.”
To get a fresh start, Krupski moved from his father’s Bristol home to live with his mother, Torza, in Tennessee.
His new life proved just as tough. Difficulties at school led him to drop out. He couldn’t hold a job and fought with his mother.
“He had the idea that he wouldn’t have any rules,” said Torza.
Far away from his family, friends and girlfriend, Neil got depressed and started hanging out with a crowd that did heavy drugs. He admitted
using LSD, marijuana, alcohol and cocaine, his mother said.
Still, Torza didn’t realize how serious her son’t problems were. “I thought that the depression was due to drugs and being a teenager,” she said.
Krupski confided to Peidl all his troubles in Tennessee.
“He didn’t like it there,” she said. “He missed all his friends.”
The days before his death were difficult ones. Krupski stole his mother’s car, and got picked up by police because he lacked a license. He spent
a night in juvenile detention.
Torza got angry and fought with him. “I couldn’t control him,” Torza said. “He was helpless and so was I.”
Krupski hoped to move back to Connecticut to go to trade school and be with Peidl. But his father and stepmother told him they would not take
Torza said Neil felt trapped. “I think that is when he felt hopeless.”
Peidl talked to Neil the day before he killed himself, but he didn’t tell her his plans.
“He was upset,” Peidl said. “He was crying.”
Early in the morning on January 24, Krupski took a little of every kind of prescription drug in the medicine cabinet. He went to his mother’s car
and hooked a hose to the exhaust pipe and fed it in the window.
At quarter to five in the morning, Torza found Neil, limp and sweaty. “The car was all steamed up,” she said. “He was still alive and
Torza called 911. When the ambulance arrived, EMTs told her Neil would be okay. But Krupski failed to waken. John Krupski and his wife
rushed down to Tennessee.
After four days in a coma, doctors told the family Neil would never recover. They sadly said a final farewell and took their son off life
“I got to spent that time with him, hold him, cry, and say goodbye,” Torza said.
In Bristol, mourners came to Krupski’s wake. Several groups of teenagers huddled together, crying over his body.
At the funeral, more kids came, in support of Peidl and each other.
Nancy Krupski, Neil’s stepmother, told teenagers in a touching eulogy that suicide was not the answer.
Almost a year later, people who loved Neil are still dealing with his death.
“Most of the time I can accept it,” Peidl said, “but there are times when I get really angry or sad.”
John Krupski said he had looked forward to playing with Neil’s children someday.
He never will.
Amanda Lehmert and Danielle Ouimet are Reporters for Youth Journalism International.