Sydney Aiello, who survived the Parkland School shooting in February of 2018, has taken her own life a little over a year after the tragic incident, CBS News is reporting.
Sydney — who was a senior at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School at the time of the shooting — survived uninjured, at least physically. She did, however, lose her best friend, Meadow Pollack, as well as 12 other classmates and three staff members.
Not unlike other people who survive violent acts or disasters, Sydney suffered with survivor’s guilt and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. However, she never sought help, says her mother Cara Aiello.
Other Parkland survivors, such as David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, became the public faces of a renewed push for gun control legislation.
Sydney, for her part, eschewed public advocacy. She instead attempted to live as normal a life as possible, even enrolling in college. However, she struggled in college, due to being terrified of remaining in a classroom.
On March 17, Sydney lost her battle with her demons, according to a GoFundMe page set up by a friend of her family.
“Sydney spent 19 years writing her story as a beloved daughter, sister and friend to many. She lit up every room she entered. She filled her days cheerleading, doing yoga, and brightening up the days of others. Sydney aspired to work in the medical field helping others in need.”
Beautiful Sydney with such a bright future was taken from us way too soon. My friend’s sister and someone dear to Meadow.
Any help for the family to cover funeral expenses would be appreciated.
Please RT and donate! https://t.co/3eg2Su4Jbv
— Hunter Pollack (@PollackHunter) March 21, 2019
Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter Alaina in the shooting, told WFOR-TV (Miami) that Sydney is also a victim of the shooting.
“It breaks my heart that we’ve lost yet another student from Stoneman Douglas. My advice to parents is to ask questions, don’t wait.”
Columbia University professor Dr. Kelly Posner, an expert on suicide prevention, said that Aiello’s suicide underscores the need to speak openly and honestly about what she called “our greatest public health crisis.” She also pointed to her six-question flowchart — available via the Columbia Lighthouse Project — that should be used whenever a friend, loved one, or young charge is showing signs of contemplating suicide. Posner claimed that her protocol has helped to reduce the number of suicides among members of the military.
“We know we need to find the people suffering in silence. Every coach, every teacher, every peer needs to have this in their hands.”
Similarly, Cindy Arenberg Seltzer — president and CEO of the Children’s Services Council of Broward County — said that parents need to be proactive if they believe they are seeing signs of suicidal thoughts in their children and teenagers.
“Parents have to be a little more aggressive when they see those signs and not just wait for the child to ask for help and maybe take them to those resources.”
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.