NEWTOWN — The wife of a Sandy Hook man who took his own life this week said he could not overcome the trauma of losing their daughter, Avielle, in the 2012 elementary school shooting.
Jennifer Hensel, the widow of Jeremy Richman, posted a statement Thursday on a crowdfunding site saying the nonprofit the couple founded to honor their daughter would now also honor him.
“The work of the Avielle Foundation is meaningful,” Hansel wrote on a GoFundMe page about the nonprofit, which supports research about the roots of violence in the brain. “Now we also honor Jeremy through the continued work of our foundation.”
Richman’s suicide, which has been in national headlines all week, is raising awareness about the depths of grief-based trauma — particularly trauma that is complicated by a mass tragedy such as the one in Sandy Hook, where 26 first-graders and educators were slain.
Richman’s death follows the suicides of two teenagers who survived the Parkland, Fla. shooting where 17 high school students and staff were killed last year.
Richman, a 49-year-old neuropharamacologist, understood as much as anyone the relationship between brain science and behavioral health.
Yet on Monday morning he walked into the old Edmond Town Hall where his foundation has an office and killed himself.
“[M]y champion and the love of my life is the person who had every tool in the toolbox at his disposal,” Hansel wrote on Go Fund Me, where supporters had donated nearly half of the $30,000 goal in 24 hours. “He succumbed to the grief that he could not escape.”
Hansel expressed gratitude for the hope and the joy that returned to their lives after 2012 with the birth of their daughter Imogen, now 4, and Owen, 2, calling them “a true reflection of Jeremy and me.”
She shared it was heartbreaking to think about raising them alone.
“To parent our children without my champion shatters my heart and I will love my best friend forever,” she said.