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World Two apparent teen suicides in a week shake Florida community where school shooting left 17 dead

A student at the Florida high school where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting last year apparently took his own life Saturday, police said. It was the second apparent suicide in the span of a week involving a student survivor of the shooting in Parkland, a community still reeling from the aftermath of the massacre.

Officers in Coral Springs, Florida, responded Saturday night to the apparent suicide of a minor who attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Officer Tyler Reik, a police spokesman, confirmed Sunday. He said the death was still under investigation.

Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter Alaina during the massacre at Stoneman Douglas on Feb. 14, 2018, said the child who died Saturday was a 16-year-old boy. Petty alluded to the boy’s death in a Twitter post late Saturday, in which he wrote “17+2” with an emoji of a broken heart.

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Another teenager, Sydney Aiello, 19, a recent Stoneman Douglas graduate, took her own life last weekend, her mother Cara Aiello told the local CBS television affiliate. Aiello told the station that her daughter had received a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, and that Sydney suffered from survivor’s guilt after the shooting, in which one of her best friends, Meadow Pollack, had died.

News of Sydney Aiello’s death spread quickly, drawing tens of thousands of dollars to a webpage for donations for the young woman’s funeral and memorial. It also started a discussion in Parkland — more than a year after the shooting — about preventing suicide and offering long-term resources to young people who have continued to struggle to cope with their trauma and loss.

Sunday marked the anniversary of the March For Our Lives that students organized around the world to rally against gun violence following the horror in Parkland.

The Broward County Public Schools brought in counselors and therapy dogs for Stoneman Douglas students immediately after the shooting last year. But those crisis services were insufficient for some students and teachers, who sought additional help on their own.

At the start of the 2018-19 school year last fall, the school district advertised the continuing operation of a “resiliency center” at a park in Parkland, with counselors and support groups for families. That center remains open, including this week, when local public schools will be closed for spring break.

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