Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida lost  precious lives when a gunman opened fire last February. And now the school is mourning another loss after Syndey Aiello, a survivor of the tragedy, took her own life this weekend.
The 19-year-old is a recent graduate of the school and had reportedly struggled greatly over the past year since the shooting.
According to Sydney’s mother Cara, her daughter had severe survivor’s guilt and was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the incident.
The memories of that haunting day followed her, making it difficult for Sydney to even attend her college classes due to a fear of being in the classroom. She became sad and withdrawn.
Cara is devastated that the teen never asked for help before taking her life.
The grief of watching so many of her friends and teachers die around her became too much for the once lively young girl to bear.
Sydney was best friends with Meadow Pollack, who died in the mass shooting. Meadow’s dad, Andrew, became a public face after the tragedy after he gave an emotionally-charged speech at the White House, calling for gun law changes and stronger safety measures in schools.
A little more than a year after this photo was taken, both are gone.
In February, Meadow was killed in the Parkland shooting. This week, Sydney took her own life.
— Kenneth Preston (@kennethrpreston) March 21, 2019
While much of America’s attention shifted toward student activists like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg following the shooting, few noticed the survivors who suffered in silence.
As the father of one of the 17 victims who died, Ryan Petty says he’s concerned that more kids suffering trauma from the event will commit suicide. Thus, Petty has channeled his sorrow into spearheading suicide prevention efforts.
Petty urges that parents and friends need to ask hard questions about whether or not survivors have had suicidal thoughts or intention of acting on those thoughts.
“It breaks my heart that we’ve lost yet another student from Stoneman Douglas,” Petty said. “My advice to parents is to ask questions, don’t wait.”
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
CEO of Children’s Services Council of Broward County, Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, says the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy needs to be a wake-up call to the importance of addressing mental health problems. She added that there are many resources available including a program called Eagles’ Haven and a 211 hotline.
Seltzer warns that kids who are losing interest in activities they once enjoyed or who are self-harming warrant particular attention.
“Parents have to be a little more aggressive when they see those signs and not just wait for the child to ask for help but maybe to take them to those resources,” said Seltzer.
Sydney’s mother dearly hopes that her daughter’s tragic story will help save the lives of others.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist Sydney’s family financially with funeral services.
The page shares many of the admirable qualities about this joyous, yoga-loving, young woman who the world will greatly miss:
“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. On March 17th, 2019 Sydney became the guardian angel to many. It was a privilege to have you in our lives. Sydney, we will miss you and always love you. May you find peace in His arms.”
Please join us in praying for the Aiello family during this time of grief. If you would like to contribute to Sydney’s memorial services, you may donate to her GoFundMe here.