Help is available, officials stress after Parkland suicides

School districts urges students, staff to make use of crisis center, counselors

PARKLAND, Fla. – After the two suicides in less than week, Broward County school district officials are reminding students and staffers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School about resources that can help those struggling with the trauma of last year's mass shooting.

A 15-year-old student died over the weekend and days earlier, 19-year-old Sydney Aiello, a recent graduate, took her own life. Aiello's mother said her daughter suffered from survivor's guilt.

"They are feeling in pain and are questioning their own existence. They are wondering why they got to live and these other kids didn't," said Dr. Dara Bushman, a clinical psychologist.

Bushman has treated two dozen students, parents and other members of the Parkland community after the school shooting that claimed 17 lives.

"They were in the same place at the same time and they don't understand it," Bushman said.

There are resources available for Stoneman Douglas survivors, one just minutes away from the school at the Pine Trails Park Amphitheater -- the Broward County Resiliency Center. There is also Eagles' Haven, a wellness center, in Coral Springs. The Eagles' Haven opened its doors a week early in light of these two deaths.

Officials will also host a town hall on suicide prevention at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Coral Spring City Hall.

"We do know statistically that following (school) shootings, we will lose more victims to suicide than we did to the gun shooting. And that was before we had social media," said Sarah Franco, executive director of JAFCO, a nonprofit agency that provides services to children dealing with trauma.

The center hosted an emergency meeting Sunday night, giving parents information about how to talk to their children about suicide and spot the warning signs.

"That conversation has to happen as hard as it is, because it is possible that those conversations could help save a child," Franco said.

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