Sydney Aiello was one of the many students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who’s life was forever changed by the events of February 14, 2018. It was on that day that 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz entered the school grounds and opened fire. He took the lives of 14 students and three staff members. The tragedy shocked the nation as one of the deadliest school shootings in history.
Aiello survived the massacre, but lost her close friend, Meadow Pollack, who was shot and killed. Aiello’s life was turned upside down and the memories of that day plagued her as she tried to move on with the rest of her life. This past weekend she took her own life at 19-years-old, according to NBC News.
Aiello was doing everything she could to maintain her positivity and continue moving forward after the tragedy. She graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas last year and headed to college in hopes of working in the medical field. Despite these accomplishments, her mother, Cara, says she was still dealing with the loss of her friend and battling PTSD and survivor’s guilt. The memories of the Parkland shooting haunted her when she sat inside lecture halls, making it challenging for her to attend class.
Parkland Shooting Survivor Sydney Aiello Takes Her Own Life.— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) March 22, 2019
Sending all who loved her love and strength.
If you are struggling please reach out for help 1-800-273-8255
Dr. Victor Schwartz, chief medical officer at The Jed Foundation, spoke of the ripple affect an event like the February 14 shooting can have. Not only did it affect those present at the time, but it will continue to affect them and their families for years to come.
“It stands to reason that there is some increased risk around the survivor guilt. Parkland students have done an incredible job being out there and advocating for gun safety, but the sadness and distress are still there. I’m sure many of these students are still struggling with symptoms that look like PTSD. And how could they not be? They and their families and support systems need to be aware of potential risk times. You want to be a little bit more vigilant about what they’re feeling and what their moods are and how they’re functioning.”
Dr. Schwartz encourages parents to be aware of their child’s mental state, particularly during times of transition or change. While they may seem to be coping well and acting normal, symptoms similar to those Aiello experienced could pop up at any time. Aiello’s family hopes that her story will help parents recognize the warning signs their own children could be displaying.
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.