More than six years after the Sandy Hook mass shooting, Newtown, Connecticut is mourning yet another related passing: the father of one of the victims, who was found dead by apparent suicide.
At 7 a.m. on Monday, police were called to the Edmond Town Hall, where they discovered Jeremy Richman, 49, who they believe died by suicide. The Hartford Courant reports that the office of the chief medical examiner has yet to determine the exact cause of death.
In December 2012, Richman’s daughter Avielle was one of the 20 first-graders shot and killed by gunman Adam Lanza, who later took his life. Since then, Richman had dedicated his life to Avielle’s memory: He co-founded the Avielle Foundation, which studies brain research to better understand why someone may be driven to commit violence, and he was among the Sandy Hook families who filed a lawsuit against Infowars host conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who long claimed that the Sandy Hook shooting was actually a hoax.
Following news of Richman’s death, the Newtown community expressed sadness and devastation over the news, which Connecticut senator Chris Murphy called “awful, horrible, devastating.”
“Jeremy was a good friend and an unceasing advocate for better research into the brain’s violence triggers,” he tweeted. “He was with me in my office two weeks ago, excited as could be about the Avielle Foundation’s latest amazing work.”
A Sandy Hook family member who remained unidentified told the Courant that they were “shocked” by the news, saying of Richman, “He had such a clear purpose of what he wanted to do to honor his daughter … I’m sitting in my car right now crying.”
This comes after two Parkland survivors died by apparent suicide.
News of Richman’s passing comes on the heels of the deaths of two others whose lives were touched by horrific school shootings: Sydney Aiello and another unidentified student, both of whom survived the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, and both of whom died by apparent suicide.
Last week, Aiello’s mother told CBS Miami that her 17-year-old daughter had died by suicide on March 17, after a year of struggling with survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder. As has Newtown’s community in the wake of Richman’s death, the Parkland community has mourned Aiello’s death. Ryan Petty, whose daughter died in the shooting, told CBS that it “breaks [his] heart that we’ve lost yet another student from Stoneman Douglas.”
And then, just yesterday, the Miami Herald reported that another Parkland student had died by apparent suicide: a tenth grade student who attended Stoneman Douglas last year. (While Coral Springs police believe the cause of death was suicide, they are still investigating.)
Parents and locals want officials to take action.
In the wake of the two Parkland student deaths, the Herald reports that more than 60 school, governmental, and law enforcement officials attended an emergency meeting to discuss how officials should give the community necessary mental health support.
“Now is the time for the Florida Legislature to help,” Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s emergency management director and a former state representative from Parkland, tweeted on Sunday. “Mental health is a bipartisan issue.”
Petty, who founded Walk Up Foundation, a suicide-prevention organization, after his daughter’s death told the Herald it’s time society talk seriously about suicide.
“17 + 2” he tweeted on Sunday, with a broken heart emoji — a reference to the 17 students who were killed in the Parkland school shooting, and the two who have died since.
This post will be updated as new details emerge. In the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.