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Parkland, Fla., Struggles to Respond to Two Newer High School Suicide: NPR



A candle watch was held last year for victims of shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Seventeen students died in one of the worst plays in US history.

Wilfredo Lee / AP


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Wilfredo Lee / AP

A candle watch was held last year for victims of shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Seventeen students died in one of the worst plays in the United States history.

Wilfredo Lee / AP

The community of Parkland, Fla., Reeling from the news at the weekend, two young people took their own life. On Friday, 19-year-old Sydney Aiello was buried five days after she killed. Aiello was senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year at the time of mass shooting. One day later, on Saturday, another student took his life. He was a current student, a sophomore that the authorities have not identified.

Ryan Petty, the father of Alaina Petty, a freshman killed in high school photography in February 2018, calls the two new deaths "heartbreaking." On the weekend, a post to his Twitter account read "17 + 2" with a broken heart. Petty says, "This is something we acknowledged, was an opportunity early and tried to raise awareness [about] in the MSD community. I now hope that as a community we acknowledge that the threat is very real."

It is impossible to say exactly what led these two young people to take their lives. Aiello was close friends with Meadow Pollack, one of the students killed in the attack.

Her parents say she was struggling with "survivors' fault". Shortly after her graduation she shared a post on suicide prevention on her Facebook page with a hashtag. "Asking for help is not a weakness."

Les Gordon, a family therapist who advises students and former high school students, says survivors' fault is a problem for many of his clients. "They are wondering why they live and their friend is not," he says. "I've had kids just tell me they should have been able to do something to stop the shooting."

On Sunday, school authorities, psychiatric professionals, parents and others held an emergency meeting on how to respond to suicide and reach others who might be in danger.

In a shopping mall just a mile from the school, volunteers moved Monday in furniture and supplies to a health and wellness center for the community. The center should open in a month.

Because of the suicide, director Sarah Franco said it opens up ahead of schedule now with a critical message: "What we ask parents to do," she says, "is daily sitting down with their children who is in the Middle Ages or in the Middle Ages to ask them whether they have thoughts of dying or thoughts of suicide or hurting themselves. And this is a conversation that must take place. "

The wellness center, called "Eagles Haven", after Stoneman Douglas mascot, is funded by a Ministry of Justice and modeled on similar programs created after school shooting. in Columbine, Colo. and Sandy Hook, Conn. Franco says advisors are available at the drop-in center and reaches out to students and others who are hit by the shooting to connect them with therapists. [19659011] More than a year later, therapists say that only a fraction of those hit by the shootings have sought counseling. The latest suicides are a reminder they say that for many, the trauma is still fresh and healing requires help.

Petty says that after his 14-year-old daughter's death, Alaina, he and his family have seen counselors, and it has helped. "You know we're not there yet," says Petty. "We have good days and we have bad days. But I can just tell everyone how important it is to seek help. And for those we are worried about, you know friends, families, neighbors, let us help them Get the help they need. "On Monday, there was another sad reminder that trauma continues to go after a tragedy. In Parkland, people were severely hit by news from Connecticut that father of one of the 20 children killed in Sandy Hook took his own life.

If you or someone you know might consider suicide, contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and hard to hear: 1-800-799-4889) or Crisis Text Line by writing HOME to 741741.


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