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Parents Taking Preventative Action After Second Stoneman Douglas Student Takes Own Life

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PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – Parkland Strong is taking on a new meaning as two survivors of last year’s deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have taken their own lives in just the past week.

First it was Sydney Aiello, who’s mom said she suffered from survivor’s guilt.

On Saturday night, a male sophomore student at Stoneman Douglas killed himself.

“Just devastated,” said Ryan Petty, who’s daughter Alaina was murdered along with 16 others on Valentine’s day of 2018. “It hurts we’ve got kids who are still suffering.”

Parents along with community leaders met within hours of learning of the most recent suicide, coming up with a plan for parents to help their kids who may be contemplating taking their own life.

“The thing we want parents to take away from this is [to] have those conversations, don’t be afraid,” urged Petty. “Don’t think you’re going to give them any ideas.”

The group wants parents to ask their kids specific questions.

Have you ever wished you were dead?
Have you had thoughts of killing yourself?
Have you thought about how you might do it?
Have you had intentions of acting of suicidal thoughts?
Have you started to work out details of killing yourself?
Have you done anything to prepare to end your life?

If the answer is yes to 4, 5 or 6, get help immediately and don’t leave them alone.

“My message, call 211 in Broward or Miami-Dade you can call 211 [as well],” Petty said. “If you’re uncomfortable calling, text 741741, text the letters FL, and you’ll be connected to a trained therapist that can help you find the resources you need.”

Along with parents, Petty hopes kids will ask their friends these questions too, and not just once.

“If you’re not comfortable with the answer you got, ask again the next day,” he suggested. “Don’t worry about asking your child over and over these questions. Things change, and their feelings about what happened on February 14th may change over time.”

The group is hoping that anyone hurting will realize that they’re not alone.

Cindy Arenberg Seltzer from the Children’s Services Council promises that someone will listen.

“What I want the community to know is that we care, we’re here. There are resources available to you and you must communicate with your children and children, you gotta talk to your friends,” she said.

Help and informational links:

The Columbia Lighthouse Project: http://cssrs.columbia.edu/the-columbia-scale-c-ssrs/cssrs-for-families-friends-and-neighbors/

Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention is Here to Help! https://fisponline.org/

Your first call for help: https://211-broward.org/

Tomorrow’s Rainbow: https://www.tomorrowsrainbow.org/

Children’s Services Council: https://www.cscbroward.org/

Also, if you or anyone you know is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, help is available.

Here are some important suicide prevention hotlines:

Broward County:
2-1-1
(954) 537-0211

Miami-Dade County:
Suicide Prevention/SafeNet
(305) 358-HELP (4357)

National Suicide Prevention
1-800-273-8255
SuicidePreventionLifeline.org

There is free counseling and confidential support available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

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