American School Shooting Survivors Commit Suicide


(Wilfredo Lee/AP)

The memorial for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School shooting.

Natali Barias, Reporter

Over the past week, three suicides related to school shootings have occurred in the United States. Two survivors from the Parkland school shooting have died, and a father from the Sandy Hook shooting has killed himself.

Jeremy Richman was the father of Avielle Richman, a first grader killed in the Sandy Hook shooting that took place on December 14, 2012. Twenty-six people died in the massacre. On Monday, Richman was found dead of apparent suicide in Edmond Town hall in Newton, Connecticut. Richman was a neuroscientist who started the Avielle Foundation with his wife, Jennifer Hensel, after the death of their six year old. The foundation researched brain processes that led to violent behavior.

The week before, two survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that took place on February 14, 2018, committed suicide. The shooting claimed the lives of the lives of 17 people, 14 of them being students. Nineteen-year-old, Sydney Aiello, former cheerleader and graduate, took her life on March 17, 2019. According to her mother, Aiello was struggling with survivors guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder from the shooting. Six days later, a sophomore from the school died from an apparent suicide. On March 27, 2019, Coral Springs Police officer, Tyler Reik, identified the student as 16-year-old Calvin Desir.

Soon after hearing the news about the students’ deaths, a group of 65 people gathered at Eagles’s Haven community wellness center to discuss steps they could take to possibly prevent suicides like these in the future. School and community officials, as well as parents of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students came up with a campaign named, “Just ask and just listen.” This campaign encourages parents to ask their kids a series of 6 questions relating to mental health and suicidal thoughts on a daily basis. Sarah Franco, a mental health advocate and inaugural director at Eagles’s Haven in Parkland stated that, “Those are difficult questions to ask a child, but it’s very important to ask them.” It is unclear what those six questions are.

The South Florida community has taken to social media creating hashtags to remember the young teens. If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, don’t be afraid to speak up. For help call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.