The Parkland community is taking emergency action after a second student who survived last year's school massacre has died by suicide.
The student, a 16-year-old boy whose name has not been made public, was the second Parkland survivor to take his own life in the space of a week — raising questions about the quality of long-term mental health care available to the kids who saw 17 of their peers and teachers gunned down on Feb. 14, 2018.
On Sunday, a group of more than 60 local officials, law enforcement people, parents, teachers and school officials convened for an emergency meeting to discuss the issue of mental health, the Miami Herald reported.
“They will be asking parents to take this issue seriously,” said Ryan Petty, whose 14-year-old daughter, Alaina Petty, was killed in last year’s shooting, according to the Herald. “Parents cannot be afraid to ask their kids the tough questions.”
The Parkland school district will distribute the “Columbia protocol” to parents, (also known as the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale), which is a set of questions designed to assess an individual’s risk of suicide. Petty told the Herald that, based on those answers, students will be offered emergency counseling options.
Last weekend, 19-year-old Sydney Aiello, who had recently graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, also committed suicide. Aiello had lost one of her best friends, Meadow Pollack, in the shooting. Aiello’s mother told local news outlets that her daughter had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt. The father of a 6-year-old victim of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting also died of an apparent suicide, police said Monday.
The majority of people who consider suicide never end up taking their own lives, and treatment works.
Current and former students from Stoneman Douglas, many of who became national voices in the fight for gun control after the horrific shooting, took to Twitter over the weekend to express their condolences. Many also described the pressure of having to get on with their everyday responsibilities of school, while simultaneously dealing with the trauma that came from the shooting a year ago.
A little over a year after the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado left 13 dead, the school’s star basketball player took his own life. The mother of a student who was left paralyzed from the shooting also committed suicide that year.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741, or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org for more information.
Cover: Students and parents visit a makeshift memorial set up at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in honor of those killed during a mass shooting to mark the one-year anniversary of the Feb. 14, 2018 school shooting. Credit: mpi04/MediaPunch /IPX