Parkland school shooting survivor who struggled with 'survivor's guilt' takes her own life
Sydney Aiello, a 19-year-old graduate from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, took her own life last weekend.
Her mother, Cara Aiello, told CBS Miami that she "struggled with survivor's guilt and was recently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder," following the mass shooting on February 14, 2018. She added that Sydney "struggled to attend college classes because she was afraid of being in a classroom and was often sad recently but never asked for help before she killed herself."
On the day of the massacre, a lone gunman entered the school and killed 17 people, including Meadow Pollack, Sydney's close friend. According to Cara, Sydney was on campus during the shooting, but not in the freshman building. Cara hopes that by sharing Sydney's story, others who are struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts or post-traumatic stress disorder will seek help.
Survivor's guilt, also known as survivor's syndrome, is a mental condition where a person believes they did something wrong by surviving a traumatic event, while others did not. The symptoms include headaches, stomaches, palpitations, insomnia, having flashbacks, feeling irritable or disconnected, and having suicidal thoughts. The condition is considered a significant symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Many people struggle with mental health issues, but do not seek help, for a variety of reasons: the stigma surrounding getting treatment, a lack of options in the area, a fear of others finding they sought treatment, a lack of money or health insurance to cover the cost, doubts that the treatment would be effective - the list goes on and on.
What's more, several people suffering from depression are skilled at hiding their condition from others. "This is one of our greatest public health crises," stated Dr. Kelly Posner, a Columbia University Professor and expert on suicide prevention, per CBS Miami.
Posner is the lead scientist on the Columbia Protocol, which lists six questions to ask someone considering committing suicide. "We know we need to find the people suffering in silence,” she said. “Every coach, every teacher, every peer needs to have this in their hands."
Sydney is survived by her parents and her brother. A GoFundMe page has been created in her memory, to help the family pay for the funeral and other expenses.
"Sydney spent 19 years writing her story as a beloved daughter, sister and friend to many," reads the GoFundMe description. "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."
The suspect accused of committing the Parkland massacre appeared in court last Friday, and is expected to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, contact Your Life Your Voice on 1-800-448-3000, or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline on 1-800-273-8255.