Jeremy Richman, father of Sandy Hook shooting victim Avielle Richman, was found dead at his office in the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown on Monday morning, according to a report in The New York Daily News. The 49-year-old father of Avielle, who was among the 20 first-grade students and six teachers who were killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, was found dead of what appears to be suicide, although the medical examiner has yet to determine the exact cause of death. Richman was found in the early morning hours in an office he worked out of at the Edmond Town Hall as head of the Avielle Foundation by an electrician who was working on the building.
Richman was among those who called for more work on mental health issues after the shooting, and he formed the Avielle Foundation to conduct research on brain functions and how they might affect the decision-making of people who commit mass atrocities like those at Sandy Hook. Within weeks of the shooting, Richman was part of a delegation that went to the state legislature to urge lawmakers to repair the mental health component of the healthcare system, and to take steps to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues.
“He had such a clear purpose of what he wanted to do to honor his daughter,” one family member of another Sandy Hook shooting victim said. “I’m just shocked. I’m sitting in my car right now crying. The foundation was doing really important work and was doing such good things.”
Richman left his job working for Boehringer Ingelheim, a pharmaceutical company, in order to dedicate himself full-time to the foundation he started in his daughter’s name. Just this month, he played host at an event held at the Edmond Town Hall covering issues like vulnerability and courage, the third such event he organized. He also spoke at a violence summit hosted by Florida Atlantic University last week.
“He was a brokenhearted person, as we all are,” said Neil Heslin, father of Jesse Lewis, another of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. “It’s sad. Just no words. I’m not suicidal, but I can definitely see how some people would be that way with the traumatic loss.”
In the past week, two of the survivors of the Parkland, Florida shooting reportedly died from suicides, bringing the issue of mental health care for survivors of such events into the spotlight.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.