Last week, Jeremy Richman, whose daughter was murdered in the Sandy Hook massacre, took his own life. The 49-year-old’s tragic death is accompanied by two recent suicides of student survivors of the Parkland shooting––evidence of the never-ending horror which follows those affected by these horrific events.
Richman dedicated the remainder of his life to advocating for mass shooting prevention after his six-year-old daughter, Avielle Richman, lost her life along with 20 other children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
How does a parent move on after losing a child in such a senseless act? How much pain do they have to wrestle with every single day when they see their child’s empty bed, look at their photograph and spend hours wondering about “what ifs”? Imagine the devastation as birthdays and Christmases come and go without their child.
They go to counseling, they seek professional help, they search their hearts and souls and cry out searching for relief, but they find none.
Over and over we yell, “Enough!” when we see yet another mass shooting plastered on our TVs. Parents, family, friends––they join in crying out the same word: enough. But, a few months later, we see more death, more anguish, more despair.
While Richman did what he could so another father would not have to endure the pain caused by losing a child, he could not stand the hurt anymore.
A current student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL––a 16-year-old boy––and a recent graduate, Sydney Aiello, also could not stand the hurt any longer.
Aiello’s mother, Cara, said her daughter suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt after that dark day in February 2018.
Their deaths have sparked a national discussion on suicide prevention and how to help survivors. While these measures are important, we should be focusing the same amount of effort into preventing their causes: mass shootings.
Immediately following these tragedies, we weep and mourn with those who lost loved ones, we post sympathy and prayers on social media, we take moments of silence and stand in candlelight vigils, but then it just keeps happening.
When will we really say, “Enough is enough,” and actually do something about it? How many people have to die for us to realize we have a problem?
Meanwhile, in the wake of the mosque massacres in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.
While our government officials continue denying gun problems and scratch their heads, wondering what the issue is as children keep dying, another country has stepped up to the plate to defend their citizens.
Of course, with a ban like this, citizens will not always be happy. In the U.S., I could only imagine the rage of some Americans who would rather fight for their right to own an assault rifle than prevent another senseless mass shooting.
Maybe guns are not the only issue at hand, but they are certainly a common factor. We can continue to sit on our hands and keep holding vigils and posting our condolences on social media, or we can choose to agree it is time to admit we have a problem with guns.