Recent Suicides Call For Mental Health Awareness

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Recent Suicides Call For Mental Health Awareness

Emily Dozier, Staff Writer

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Jeremy Richman was the father of six-year old Avielle when she was killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School. Sydney Aiello was across campus when 14 of her friends and 3 of her teachers were killed in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Within a week, Richman and Aiello, along with an unnamed Parkland student, committed suicide.

Aiello, a student at nearby Florida Atlantic University, survived the Valentine’s Day tragedy, while her best friend, Meadow Pollack, did not. The FAU student suffered from survivor’s guilt and PTSD in the year that led up to her suicide. Another student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas died five days later, yet his name and age have not been released to the public. There has been no connection of the boy’s suicide to the shooting. News broke of the deaths on March 24th, the first anniversary of the March For Our Lives movement. Ryan Petty, father of Alaina, who died in Parkland’s tragedy, tweeted “17+2” to signify the shooting still affects survivors even a year later. Eagles’ Haven, a wellness and support center for the MSD community, will be opening soon for those still coping with the shooting’s aftermath. A “resilience center” has also been made available in Broward County schools for additional relief and support groups.

Richman was found dead early morning in the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, Connecticut, the day after Aiello’s. His daughter, Avielle, was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre of 2012. Richman and his wife, Jennifer Hensel, founded the Avielle Foundation where they researched ways to prevent violence and promote brain health. The father was especially interested in the ways brain abnormalities contributed to violent behavior and he stressed compassion for those suffering. “Tragically, his death speaks to how insidious and formidable a challenge brain health can be and how critical it is for all of us to seek help for ourselves, our loved ones and anyone who we suspect may be in need,” the foundation says. No connection has been found between the Richman and Parkland suicides.

Since the new tragedies, more students have spoken out for the importance of mental health availability. While some may visit a therapist, counselors are more convenient, yet less accessible because of the scarcity. Many students, especially those in college, are even unaware of counseling availabilities, uncomfortable seeking a professional due to its stigma, or cannot afford the treatment needed. Campuses are hardly equipped for the demand of mental health services, despite it being many administrators’ top concern. In fact, 25 percent of college students are diagnosed with a mental health condition within one year. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death on university campuses as a result. Yet, government provides little funding, despite the opportunities it would provide. With the monies, schools can develop a national level anti-suicide program, advertise the importance of mental health, teach employees and caregivers how to recognize signs of mental illnesses, and incorporate basic mental health information into education.

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Emily Dozier, Staff Writer

Emily Dozier is a senior in Journalism 4 at Northgate. After high school, she plans to pursue a degree in journalism and communications while playing college...

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