Student tragedies highlight need for Stoneman Douglas survivors to seek help

The apparent suicides of two Parkland school shooting survivors in one week underscore the need for increased mental health resources to help those still traumatized by the tragedy.

News of both deaths spread quickly on social media, sending shock waves through a community that is still healing.

“It’s just been unfortunate that we lost another one,” said Ryan Petty, whose 14-year-old daughter, Alaina, was one of the 17 killed last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Parents, students, school officials and other members of the Stoneman Douglas community met Sunday evening, Petty said. The group discussed the need for awareness and brainstormed what to ask their family and friends who are struggling and where to go for help.

“We have students and staff that are still at risk,” Petty said.

The group also adopted the Columbia Protocol, Petty said, which is a framework for checking whether a family member or friend is in crisis.

After his daughter’s death, Petty launched the Walk Up Foundation to help prevent suicide.

“We have to recognize after an event like this, there is trauma, anxiety and depression,” Petty said. “We have to educate parents and teachers to recognize the signs and ask the right questions.”