Father of Sandy Hook shooting victim takes his own life

25 March 2019, 23:59 | Updated: 26 March 2019, 08:03

The father of a child killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has died in an apparent suicide, police have said.

Jeremy Richman's body was found outside his office on Monday morning in Newtown, Connecticut.

The 49-year-old's daughter Avielle Richman was one of 26 victims in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook in 2012.

She was six years old.

After her funeral, Mr Richman and his wife created a foundation in her name aimed at preventing violence by understanding brain health.

Mr Richman hoped the work done by The Avielle Foundation would prevent other families from experiencing the pain that he felt.

After his death, The Avielle Foundation said in a statement: "Our hearts are shattered, and our heads are struggling to comprehend.

"Tragically, his death speaks to how insidious and formidable a challenge brain health can be and how critical it is for all of us to seek help for ourselves, our loved ones and anyone who we suspect may be in need."

Neil Heslin, whose son, Jesse Lewis, was also killed at Sandy Hook, said: "I give Jeremy credit for what he accomplished with his work and his amazing strength that grew through the years."

As an advocate, Mr Richman had become well-known locally and nationally.

Last week he visited parents of the victims of another school shooting - last year's at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where 17 people were killed.

In the past few days, two survivors of that shooting have taken their own lives.

Sydney Aiello had suffered from survivor's guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder after losing her friend in the attack, her mother said.

Her fear of being in a classroom after the shooting had left her struggling to go to college.

The second person was a young man who has not been publicly named.

Dr Louis Kraus, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Chicago's Rush University Medical Centre, said that exposure to violence is one of the biggest risk factors for suicide.

He said that, even if a person was not hit by bullets or did not see shots fired, anyone affected by a school shooting is at risk.

"The scars simply don't go away with a fresh coat of paint," he said.

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.