After Second Suicide, Parkland Grapples with How to Help Survivors

KC Baker
After Second Suicide, Parkland Tries to Help Survivors

Parkland, Florida, is still reeling from the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which claimed 17 lives, severely wounded 17 others and left an untold number of emotional scars in its wake.

Now, after word of a second apparent suicide by a teen survivor in less than a week, the still-shaken community is seeking ways to help those struggling in the tragedy’s aftermath — and to prevent more mass shootings.

“How many more kids have to be taken from us as a result of suicide for the government/school district to do anything?” student-turned-activist David Hogg, 18, wrote on Twitter Sunday.

“Rip 17+2,” he added, including a yellow heart and crying emoji.

Just hours earlier, Coral Springs police officers responded to a 911 call and “discovered a deceased subject which appeared to be by suicide,” Public Information Officer Tyler Reik tells PEOPLE.

“As of now it’s an apparent suicide,” he says. “We are conducting an investigation and the cause of death hasn’t been officially confirmed yet.”

RELATED: Sydney Aiello, Parkland School Shooting Survivor, Dies By Suicide at Age 19

Authorities have not yet identified the student, but Reik tells PEOPLE the student is a juvenile.

While police haven’t officially disclosed the student’s sex, “we did confirm the student was a current student enrolled at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” he says.

Reik stresses that officials do not yet know what led to the teen’s apparent suicide. “Everybody is trying to link it as a copycat suicide, but we don’t have enough information about that yet,” he says.

The only similarity between the teens so far is that they both attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas. “They were three years apart,” he says.

Overall, he adds, “It’s sad, especially after the events of last year.”

On Feb. 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire at the school, killing 17 students and staff members and injuring 17 others as horrified students ran for their lives and watched their classmates gunned down.

Sydney Aiello, 19, who was never the same after the shooting, took her own life on March 17, 2019, her mother, Cara Aiello, confirmed on Friday.

She died of suicide because of post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt, her mother told local station CBS4.

Sydney was close friends with one of the victims, Meadow Pollack, who died at the hands of the gunman.

Though Sydney wasn’t in the building where the shooting occurred, her mother told CBS4 that her daughter struggled to attend classes in college because she was afraid of being in a classroom.

Friends have set up a GoFundMe to raise funds for Sydney’s family.

“Sydney spent 19 years writing her story as a beloved daughter, sister, and friend to many,” they wrote. “She lit up every room she entered. She filled her days cheerleading, doing yoga, and brightening up the days of others. Sydney aspired to work in the medical field helping others in need.”

RELATED: Warning Signs to Look for If You Are Concerned Someone is Suicidal 

Dr. Kevin Gilliland, Psy.D., said there are several signs to look for if you believe someone you know may be or become suicidal.

“It is really difficult for most people to watch someone struggling with feelings of depression or hopelessness about life,” Gilliland previously told PEOPLE. “If you fear that a loved one is struggling with life and they just ‘aren’t themselves’, talk to them. Try to listen more than you talk and just be curious about the change you have seen in them.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

• With reporting by Steve Helling and Elaine Aradillas