The father of one of the 20 first-grade students killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting was found dead of an apparent suicide Monday, the third suicide involving someone linked to a major U.S. school shooting in little more than a week.
The body of Jeremy Richman, 49, was found at Edmond Town Hall in Connecticut, where Richman had an office, Newtown police said. An autopsy was planned, but the death did not appear suspicious, police said.
Richman is the father of Avielle Richman and founder of the Avielle Foundation, dedicated to preventing violence and building compassion through brain research, community engagement and education.
“This is a heart breaking event for the Richman family and the Newtown community as a whole,” police Lt. Aaron Bahamonde said. “The police department’s prayers are with the Richman family right now, and we ask that the family be given privacy in this most difficult time.”
Just days earlier, the city of Parkland, Florida, was rocked by two apparent suicides involving survivors of a gunman’s rampage on Valentine’s Day 2018 that killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.
On March 17, an alum of the Broward County school died of an apparent suicide. Sydney Aiello, 19, had lost a good friend to the Parkland carnage.
Then, on Saturday, the body of a male student at the Parkland school was found dead of an apparent suicide. The next day, parents of the school’s students and representatives from organizations throughout the county came together to discuss “what we can do to help students at MSD and children throughout the county cope with trauma and depression,” schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.
Runcie urged students with thoughts of suicide to call the local suicide hotline.
“We are here for you,” Runcie said. “No judgment.”
Parents who attended the meeting said Runcie’s office was trying to reach every parent in the district via text, email, social media and robo calls. One parent in attendance was Ryan Petty, father of Alaina Petty, a 14-year-old freshman who was one of 17 people murdered on Feb. 14, 2018.
“They will be asking parents to take this issue seriously,” Petty told the Miami Herald. “Parents cannot be afraid to ask their kids the tough questions.”
The Florida suicides drew condolences from Sen. Rick Scott, who served as the state’s governor when the Parkland carnage took place.
“Deeply saddened by the loss of 2 more Parkland students,” Scott said Monday on Twitter. “No survivor should feel guilt. They should only feel our love.”
Scott added that he “spoke to many Parkland parents these last few days & am heartbroken at the devastation the community is feeling again. Ann & I are praying for their families.”
Jared Moskowitz, an alum of the school who now serves as director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, called on the state Legislature to address the issue of mental health.
“Now is the time for the Florida legislature to help,” he tweeted. “Mental health is a bipartisan issue. While we are in session NOW is the time.”
If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night or chat online.
Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.
Read more at usatoday.com.
- Parkland community concerned after 2 survivors’ suicides
- Parkland high school shooting survivor Sydney Aiello dies by suicide