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Three suicides in aftermath of mass school shootings

by Margaret Stewart - News Editor
Wed, Apr 3rd 2019 03:00 pm
LASTING EFFECT Recently, three people have committed suicide, all of which were affected by mass shootings. Father of a Sandy Hook victim, Jeremy Richman, Parkland shooting survivor Sydney Aiello  and the third victim, Calvin Desir, all took their lives due to the trauma related to the shootings.
LASTING EFFECT Recently, three people have committed suicide, all of which were affected by mass shootings. Father of a Sandy Hook victim, Jeremy Richman, Parkland shooting survivor Sydney Aiello and the third victim, Calvin Desir, all took their lives due to the trauma related to the shootings.

It has been just over a year since the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school that killed 17 victims in Parkland, Fl. Since then, the survivors have rallied, calling for stricter gun regulations, along with starting the “March for Our Lives” event hosted in Washington D.C. 

Though some seem to be coping, the nation’s attention has been on preventative measures rather than the response measures that are just as important, as they help the victims work through and process their trauma.

A wellness center named “Eagles Haven” has been dedicated in honor of the Stoneman Douglas victims and families. According to CNN, Coral Springs City Hall invited experts in to the center to answer questions from concerned citizens looking to help the victims cope. CEO and President of the Children's Services Council of Broward County and the panel's moderator, Cindy Arenberg Seltzer told CNN that she is eager to get the victims the help and support they need.

“As much as we wish that we could go back to 2/13 (the day before the shooting) and make it all go away, we can’t,” Seltzer said. “But we are trying the best we can to get services available to all of [them].”

The foundation of support starts in the home and the experts on the panel explained to parents and community members how to connect to isolated teenagers. One of the newer, more popular methods is investing in emotional support or therapy service animals. Whether or not the parents are ready to adopt a pet to help their child cope, the conversation about suicide needs to happen and stop being stigmatized.

According to CNN, the experts say that another way to support the victims is to ensure that the teachers take care of themselves in order to take care of their students.

“To the teachers in the room, the first thing I’m going to ask you to do is to take care of you, take care of yourself and make sure that you are as strong and as nurturing as you can be for yourself,” said Patrice Rotolo, clinical director for Smith Community Mental Health. “Take care of your own needs because that's the best way to meet the needs of your students.”

Last week, Sydney Aiello, a 2018 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, committed suicide. According to CNN, the 19-year-old Florida Atlantic University student was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suffered from survivor’s guilt.

Alaina Petty, one of the Parkland victims, was a freshman when the massacre took place. Her father, Ryan Petty tweeted out “17 + 2” in reference to the two additional lives that have now been lost. Petty sat down with National Public Radio (NPR) and discussed how the threat of residual suicides was always a possibility.

“This is something we recognized was a possibility early on and tried to drive awareness [about] in the MSD community,” Petty said. “I'm hoping now that as a community, we recognize that the threat is very real.”

On Saturday, March 23 Calvin Desir, the 16-year-old sophomore massacre survivor, died. In an interview with CNN, police described it as “an apparent suicide.”

The suicides have not been isolated to the Parkland shooting.  According to CNN, Jeremy Richman, father late of 6-year-old Avielle Richman who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, has been found dead, also due to an apparent suicide.

Richman, a neuroscientist, founded a non-profit in honor of his daughter, The Avielle Foundation. The foundation focuses on getting the community engaged in his research on how to prevent violence.

“Our hearts are shattered, and our heads are struggling to comprehend” the foundation stated.

Suicide is one of the most pressing mental health challenges this younger generation is facing and is the second leading cause of death for people under the age of 35. 

While Petty acknowledged that there was always a potential for these additional deaths, the legislation set in place to provide mental health support barely mentions it at all.

According to the Miami Herald, lawmakers gave more than $69 million to school districts after the shooting in order to support mental health. However, there was no mention in the final 105 pages of official legislation that targeted suicide prevention efforts.

If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

 

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Mathieu Starke

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