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Police say shooting death of 10-year-old Clearwater boy was suicide

Clearwater Police Detectives and an officer outside the ground floor apartment where a 10-year-old boy was fatally shot in his home on Thursday morning, police said.
Published Jan. 6, 2017

CLEARWATER — A Belleair Elementary School student died Thursday after shooting himself in his home, police said.

Ian Sevostjanov, 10, fired the lone gunshot while his mother "was addressing a behavioral issue as he was preparing to go to school," according to a Clearwater police news release.

Detectives ruled the case a suicide and are continuing to investigate, including looking at how the gun was stored. Police said it was a handgun, but would not give further details.

Officials responded to the first-floor residence at Lindru Gardens Apartments at 711 S Lincoln Ave. at 8:27 a.m., where paramedics unsuccessfully tried to revive the boy.

The fifth-grader was home with his mother, Olga Grusetskaja Sevostjanov, 49. His father, Leonid Sevostjanov, and brother were not home.

There have been no instances over the past two years in which police have responded to disturbance calls at the residence, according to Clearwater police spokesman Rob Shaw.

Pinellas County schools spokeswoman Lisa Wolf said grief counselors were at Belleair Elementary on Thursday for student and staff support.

Suicide among adolescents is extremely rare but is the second-leading cause of death for kids ages 10 to 14, an age group that has few deaths, said American Association of Suicidology president David Miller.

Miller said there are questions about how children can really conceptualize the finality of death. And because the rate of suicide has increased 24 percent among all age groups over the past 15 years, Miller said it should be seen as a "major public health problem."

"I think a critical point is that we take suicidal behavior seriously," Miller said. "We know, for example, that most people that die by suicide have communicated suicidal thoughts or plans to other people. Often parents don't know — it's not their fault, it's no one's fault. But we have to be alert and understand that although suicide among 10-year-old children is very rare, it does occur, and we need to be aware of the warning signs."

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, more than twice as many people die by suicide in the state annually than by homicide, with 3,035 total suicides in Florida in 2016.

It's unclear how long the Sevostjanovs lived in Clearwater, but records show the family's previous home on Regina Drive in Largo went into foreclosure in 2007.

Former neighbor Maryann Dodson, 77, said she remembers Olga Grusetskaja being pregnant and then Ian being born. She remembers the family's excitement for the baby's arrival.

The Sevostjanovs were "quiet neighbors," Dodson said, and other than a few times Olga waved hello over the backyard fence, they kept to themselves. She said the parents eventually got behind on their house payments, were foreclosed on and left all their belongings behind.

Times staff researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Tracey McManus at tmcmanus@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151. Follow @TroMcManus.

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