MIAMI – A student at the Florida high school where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting last year apparently took his own life Saturday, police said. It was the second assumed suicide in the span of a week involving a student survivor of the shooting in Parkland, a community still reeling from the aftermath of the massacre.
Officers in Coral Springs, Fla., responded Saturday night to an assumed suicide of a minor who attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, officer Tyler Reik, a police spokesman, confirmed Sunday.
Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter Alaina in the massacre on Feb. 14, 2018, said the child who died Saturday was a 16-year-old boy.
“What we feared could happen is happening,” Petty said in an interview.
The foundation that he created in his daughter’s memory held an event last May trying to raise awareness about suicide prevention.
Another teenager, Sydney Aiello, 19, a recent Stoneman Douglas graduate, took her own life last weekend, her mother Cara Aiello told the local CBS television affiliate. Aiello told the station that her daughter had received a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and that Sydney suffered from survivor’s guilt after the shooting, in which one of her best friends, Meadow Pollack, had died.
News of Sydney Aiello’s death spread quickly, drawing tens of thousands of dollars to a webpage for donations for the young woman’s funeral and memorial. It also started a discussion in Parkland — more than a year after the shooting — about preventing suicide and offering long-term resources to young people who have continued to struggle to cope with their trauma and loss.
Dr. Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University who helped lead a suicide prevention event in Parkland last year, has developed a protocol of questions that anyone — not just medical professionals — can ask to identify people who may be at risk of suicide.
“They don’t necessarily have the will to come and ask for help,” Posner said. “We should be asking these questions the way we monitor blood pressure.”