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A 19-year-old survivor of last year’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, died by suicide last weekend.
Sydney Aiello’s parents told the local CBS station she was experiencing “survivor’s guilt” and post-traumatic stress disorder. Aiello’s close friend, Meadow Pollack, died in the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 14 students and three staffers at the school. Aiello’s mother, Cara, told the television station she came forward to make sure people knew they could get help and access resources if they were suffering from similar issues.
Andrew Pollack told the Miami Herald that Aiello and his late daughter, Meadow, had been friends for a “long, long time.”
“If anyone feels like they have no one that can understand their pain, if there’s any student out there that’s having a hard time, please reach out to me on Twitter. I understand you. You aren’t alone,” Pollack said.
It’s possible that survivor’s guilt could increase one’s risk for suicidal thinking, Victor Schwartz, the chief medical officer at the Jed Foundation, told NBC News. Those concerned that their loved ones may be exhibiting signs of suicidal behavior can watch for warning signs such as increased substance use, anxiety or recklessness, a change in sleep patterns, or extreme mood swings. Treatment works, and the vast majority of people who consider suicide also never take their own lives.
"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," Schwartz said. "And how could they not be?"
Aiello graduated high school last year but struggled to attend college classes due to mental health issues. She was hoping to go into the medical profession. Family friends have set up a GoFundMe account to cover her memorial costs.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741, or visit https://suicidepreventionlifel… for more information.
Cover image: In this Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, photo, Brianna Fisher, 16, holds a new book called "Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories," during an interview with The Associated Press, in Parkland, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)