Concerns About Mental Health on Parkland Campus Raised Long Before Two Students Committed Suicide

Back in early February, parents of Broward students were pushing for Superintendent Robert Runcie to step down for a myriad of reasons; one being that they believed the school district under his leadership did not provide proper counseling to parents, students and faculty who survived the Valentine’s Day massacre that killed 17 people in a Parkland high school last year. Now, two students are dead in apparent suicides. One of them was on campus at the time of the shooting, and suffered from survivor’s guilt and post traumatic stress disorder, according to her parents. The father of a Sandy Hook victim also died in an apparent suicide today.

In spite of criticisms from the community, Runcie barred media from series of meetings he had with parents back in February. One of the those meetings was recorded on February 4th and the audio was leaked to the Sun Sentinel. In this recording, Stacy Lippel, a teacher who was grazed by a bullet as she protected children, can be heard lamenting the quality of counseling received by victims of the shooting. “Trauma is tricky and many of us continue to struggle,” she said. “Not all the social workers and counselors that are meant to help me and our traumatized students are properly trained.” Lippel claimed that students had stopped attending sessions after realizing that the counseling was “sub par” and that counselors had burdened counselees with their own trauma stories. Runcie said he would to make sure all counselors are given trauma counseling received proper training.

In the wake of suicides, Runcie’s office is reaching out to every parent in his district through
text, email, social media and robo calls “During the Spring break, I encourage you to take time to speak with your children every day. Dinners are a great time for family conversation,” he encouraged parents. “We need to remove the stigma from talking about suicide.”

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to somebody before you take your own life.

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

You can also dial: 2-1-1 or 954-740-6731. If you prefer not to call, you can text “FL” to 741741 for a live counselor.

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