The suicide death of the son of an opposition lawmaker, a teenage boy who had been victimized by a pedophile, has unleashed grief in Poland and criticism of state media.
The 15-year-old boy killed himself after state TV and radio revealed some details about his case. While they did not name him directly, enough details were provided in the reports to make him identifiable by the public.
His mother, Magdalena Filiks, a member of parliament with the centrist Civic Platform, the largest opposition party, announced Friday on social media that her son Mikołaj died Feb. 17.
She announced that his funeral would take place in Szczecin, her home city, on Tuesday, the day before he would have turned 16.
She gave no details about the reasons for his death, but she requested that the “media” — putting the word in quotation marks — respect her family’s privacy and stay away from the funeral of the son she referred to by his diminutive, Miki.
On Twitter, opposition politicians voiced grief, horror and outrage at news of his death, which comes amid a rise in youth suicides.
Some accused state media, which is controlled by the ruling Law and Justice party, of creating the circumstances that led to the suicide. The boy’s death came more than two years after he suffered the abuse in 2020 — but only a few weeks after public media began reporting on his case.
Donald Tusk, the head of Civic Platform, vowed to hold Law and Justice to account “for every villainy, for all human harm and tragedies they have caused while in power.”
When he was 13, Mikołaj was victimized by a local Civic Platform politician and LGBT activist. That man, identified as Krzysztof F., was sentenced in 2021 to more than four years in prison for sexual abuse and providing drugs to minors.
By law, the victim’s identity was not released, standard protection given to minors who are the victims of sexual crimes in order to prevent further suffering on their part.
Radio Szczecin in December revealed some details about the case. While it did not name the boy, the radio station gave his age and the information about his mother being a lawmaker. It was enough for people to easily deduce who the boy was.
Since news of the boy’s death was released on Friday, social media in Poland has been filled with condemnation of Radio Szczecin, an outlet of state radio, and the journalist involved, as well as other state media outlets that reported the story. Criticism has also been directed at the Law and Justice party for the way it has used taxpayer-funded state media as a mouthpiece and tool to hold onto power.
Radio Szczecin has not reported on the suicide.
Government spokesman Piot Müller on Monday refused to comment on the matter.
The lawmaker’s tragedy comes in a country bitterly divided and one that is facing elections this fall that will determine whether Law and Justice, a conservative and nationalist party, will manage to hang on for a third term.
The traditionally Catholic nation has for years been grappling with divisions amid revelations of clerical abuse in the church. The ruling party is strongly aligned with the church and has often argued that sexual crimes are not solely limited to the church but exist in other parts of life as well.