Second Parkland survivor dies in ‘apparent suicide’, police say
July 11, 2020
Two teenagers who survived America’s deadliest high school shooting have committed suicide in the last week, bringing fresh tragedy to the Florida community.
A 17-year-old boy who attended the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida – where 17 people were killed last year – died on Saturday in what police are treating as a suicide.
The boy, who has not been named, was in his second year of high school and reportedly died from a gun shot wound to the head.
It comes just days after Sydney Aiello, a 19-year-old recent graduate of the school, took her own life. Ms Aiello’s family said the teenager had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and suffered from survivor’s guilt after the shooting, in which one of her best friends, Meadow Pollack, was shot dead.
Former student Nikolas Cruz entered the high school armed with a semi-automatic rifle on February 14, 2018 and left 14 students and three staff members dead, with 17 others wounded.
Sydney, who was not in the room during the shooting, went on to study at Florida Atlantic University but struggled to attend classes because she was afraid of being in a classroom.
Meadow’s father Andrew Pollack, who has since become a gun reform activist, told the Miami Herald "Meadow and Sydney were friends for a long, long time".
"It’s terrible what happened," he said. "Killing yourself is not the answer".
The fresh tragedy has drawn calls in Florida for increased spending on suicide prevention programmes and more mental health services for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school community.
More than 60 local school, child services and law enforcement officials met with teachers and parents for an emergency meeting on Sunday.
"Now is the time for the Florida Legislature to help," said Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s emergency management director and a former state representative from Parkland.
Another survivor, David Hogg, who has become a prominent gun control advocate since the massacre, added his voice to calls.
"How many more kids have to be taken from us as a result of suicide for the government/school district to do anything?" he tweeted.
The city’s mayor Christine Hunschofsky said Monday that officials are publicising the available counseling services.
In a separate development, the father of a 6-year-old killed in the Sandy Hook school massacre died of an apparent suicide on Monday.
Jeremy Richman’s body was found in his Connecticut office building Monday morning, Newtown police said.
Mr Richman, 49, had dedicated his time to helping prevent mass shootings after his daughter Avielle was among 20 children and six adults killed in the elementary school in 2012.
Police said they will not disclose the method or any other details surrounding Mr Richman’s death but said that it does not appear to be suspicious.