A year after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students and the Parkland community at large are still struck by grief. Over the past two weeks, two survivors of last year’s shooting have taken their own lives. In addition, the father of Sandy Hook victim and founder of the Avielle Foundation, also took his own life this week.

These tragedies represent two larger issues; national suicide contagion and the lack of resources available to survivors of gun violence, their families, and the families of the victims.

Students at West Campus High School walked out in solidarity Photo by Elisama Arredondo

Suicide contagion is defined as “the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one’s family, one’s peer group, or through media reports of suicide and can result in an increase in suicide and suicidal behaviors”. In the era of technology, reports of suicide can be glorified, repetitive, and misleading. When these stories portray the suicide as any sort of success, can lead vulnerable people and individuals in similar situations to believe this is the solution, when in fact it is not.

Another issue these tragedies represent is the huge stigma surrounding grief and the lack of resources available to survivors and families of the victims. These people often feel alone and didn’t have the resources and didn’t feel like they could talk to others who hadn’t been through the same experiences. Representative Bobby DuBose from Fort Lauderdale said “Trauma and mental health is real” and government officials are starting to recognize the problem and hoping to address it.

The problems of suicide contagion, gun violence, and the stigma regarding trauma must be addressed in order to prevent future tragedies. Government officials and all people must recognize these issues, Americans have to come together to put an end to this violence and the problems that follow.

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide Text CONNECT to 741741 for suicide prevention call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255