Tony Cassetta and his wife are still trying to heal after their 16-year-old son died by suicide last year. So when they spotted their neighbor’s Halloween decoration of a mannequin hanging from a noose near Memphis Street in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood, it immediately triggered strong emotions.
“Brings you right back to that day when we lost our son,” Cassetta said.
Cassetta, an Army veteran, said he went over to his neighbors' house on Monday to talk to them about his feelings. His wife also wrote a letter explaining their heartache.
“We don’t see the Halloween in it,” Cassetta told NBC10. “I don’t understand the connection between suicide and Halloween.”
Cassetta said he later received a letter with racist and sexist language directed at Hispanics Tuesday morning. The writer of the letter said Cassetta’s loss had “absolutely nothing to do with” the writer’s life.
“Suicide is beyond selfish and your son’s selfishness is still attempting to affect others,” the letter said. “But it stops here. If anything the display will continue to grow as the years go on.”
When NBC10 arrived on Tuesday, the decoration was down and the police had just left. Police told the couple the neighbor would keep the mannequin down. As NBC10 left, though, we spotted a woman on the roof attempting to hang the mannequin again. When we approached her, however, she took the decoration back down and wouldn’t answer when we called her. Cassetta’s neighbor also did not respond when we knocked on their door.
Cassetta hasn’t confirmed who sent him the letter. He also said the support he’s received has been overwhelming. September is Suicide Prevention Month.
SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP: If you are in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting 'Home' to 741741.