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Two Parkland, Fla., shooting survivors die in apparent suicides

By
Daniel Uria
Two survivors of the shooting died this month in apparent suicides, authorities said. File Photo by Gary Rothstein/UPI
Two survivors of the shooting died this month in apparent suicides, authorities said. File Photo by Gary Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

March 24 (UPI) -- Two survivors of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year died in possible suicides this week, local authorities said.

Investigators told the Miami Herald that a current Stoneman Douglas student died in an "apparent suicide" on Saturday night about a week after recent graduate Sydney Aiello, 19, also died by suicide.

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The second student's age, sex and name were not immediately released and police are still investigating the case.

"We are not going to release the name," Coral Springs Police Department spokesman officer Tyler Reik told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "It's a juvenile ... and out of respect for the family."

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It wasn't immediately clear if the student's death was related to the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at the school in which 17 students and faculty members were killed.

"I know he attended Stoneman Douglas," Reik said. "I can't tell you if it's related to the Parkland shooting. We don't know the reasoning behind it. It's still an ongoing investigation. It hasn't even been confirmed as a suicide."

Sydney Aiello died on March 17 from a a gunshot wound to the head, Heather A. Gálvez with the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office told NBC News.

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She graduated from Stoneman Douglas in 2018 and began studying to enter the medical field, but her mother Cara Aiello, told CBS Miami that her daughter struggled to attend college classes because she was afraid of being in a classroom.

Her mother said that Sydney Aiello also experienced survivor's guilt and had recently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ryan Petty, father of Alaina Petty, a 14-year-old freshman who was killed in the Stoneman Douglas shooting, told the Miami Herald the student who died Saturday also died from a gunshot wound to the head.

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Ryan Petty, who founded a suicide prevention foundation called the Walk Up Foundation after his daughter's death, said "the issue of suicide needs to be talked about," and encouraged parents to discuss it with their children.

"It breaks my heart that we've lost yet another student from Stoneman Douglas," he said. "My advice to parents is to ask questions, don't wait."

Stoneman Douglas survivor and activist David Hogg grieved the loss of his former classmates.

"How many more kids have to be taken from us as a result of suicide for the government/school district to do anything? Rip 17+2," Hogg wrote on Twitter Sunday.

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He also criticized politicians and the school system for having the students return to school less than a month after the shooting and failing to provide adequate resources to manage their mental health.

"Having students go back to the same high school 2 weeks after 17 teachers and students were killed is cruel and unusual punishment for living through a mass shooting," Hogg wrote. "We should be spending all the money politicians want to spend on arming teachers on something that will actually save lives like mental healthcare in our schools."

Grief therapists assisting Parkland families are working to find the best way to help those affected. They expressed concern for the students who will be off this week for spring break in the wake of the two deaths, the Miami Herald reported.

A Pew Research study published in February found that 70 percent of teens view mental health concerns, such as anxiety and depression, as a major problem in the communities where they live.

Of the 920 Americans between the ages of 13 and 17 polled in the study, 61 percent said they feel a lot of pressure to get good grades, 29 percent said they feel a lot of pressure to look good, 28 percent feel a lot of pressure to fit in socially, 21 percent feel a lot of pressure to be good in extracurricular activities and sports, 6 percent feel a lot of pressure to drink alcohol and 4 percent feel a lot of pressure to use drugs.

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The poll results followed a study in the medical journal Pediatrics found that 8 percent of children said they had contemplated suicide at some time, but only half of their parents were aware of it.

Conversely around 8 percent of parents said their child had ever thought about suicide and almost half the time, the child denied it.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, some warning signs of suicide risk include withdrawal from friends, family and activities; sleeping too much or too little; irritable or aggressive behavior; and giving away possessions.

Overall, about 9 percent of girls and 7 percent of boys said they'd contemplated suicide, based on the study including 5,000 kids, aged 11 to 17, and one parent for each child.

If you or someone you know are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

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