SANDY HOOK -- Jeremy Richman was the father of Avielle, who was 6 years old when she died in the Sandy Hook tragedy.
In the years after his daughter’s death, Richman, a neuropharmacologist, founded the Avielle Foundation. Monday morning, Richman was found dead at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, in his foundation’s office.
Police said he died by suicide.
“Jeremy was a very good friend, somebody who it was an honor and pleasure to have known,” said Neil Heslin, who also lost a child in Sandy Hook. “I knew Jeremy before we lost our children at Sandy Hook Elementary. They were both in the same class and used to play on the playground after school together.”
Heslin said he considered Richman a family member.
“He was just an amazing person,” said Heslin. “Great personality, outgoing, somebody always there to help and support other people.”
“We’re all forever connected,” he added. “It was a surprise, a shock to find this tragic news out this morning.”
Richman leaves behind his wife and two young children.
The Avielle Foundation released a statement:
“Our hearts are shattered, and our heads are struggling to comprehend. Jeremy was a champion father, husband, neuroscientist and, for the past seven years, a crusader on a mission to help uncover the neurological underpinnings of violence through the Avielle Foundation, which he and his wife, Jennifer Hensel, founded after the death of their daughter, Avielle, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Jeremy was deeply devoted to supporting research into brain abnormalities that are linked to abnormal behavior and to promoting brain health. 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.
“Jeremy’s mission will be carried on by the many who love him, including many who share the heartache and trauma that he has suffered since December 14, 2012. We are crushed to pieces, but this important work will continue, because, as Jeremy would say, we have to.
As we did six years ago and now must do again today, we ask both the media and the public to give the family the privacy anyone would deserve to begin to process this tragic development.”
Jeffrey Deitz, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who teaches at Quinnipiac University and practices in Fairfield, said if someone appears to be struggling, it is important to start a conversation.
“Trauma never goes away,” said Deitz. “Above all, reach out. Suicidal thoughts result in impulsive behavior. The impulse for self-harm or harming other people will pass for many individuals.”
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or you can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.