The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community in south Florida is mourning another loss.
Sydney Aiello was a recent MSD graduate who was at the school the day of the mass shooting when 17 people lost their lives. Her mother said she took her own life last weekend.
A teacher described the 19-year-old as a joy to have in class.
Aiello was close friends with Parkland shooting victim Meadow Pollack.
Aiello’s mom said her daughter felt survivor’s guilt and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after being on campus the day of the shooting last year.
She said Aiello struggled to attend college classes because she was afraid of being in a classroom and was sad, but never asked for help before killing herself.
Her mom hopes Aiello’s story can help save others.
“It breaks my heart that we’ve lost yet another student from Stoneman Douglas,” said Ryan Petty, whose daughter, Alaina, died in the shooting.
Petty has focused a lot of effort on suicide prevention since the Parkland tragedy, worried that traumatized survivors might take their own lives.
He said people need to ask questions of someone who might be considering suicide, like “Have you thought of killing yourself?” and “Have you had any intention of acting on those thoughts?”
“My advice to parents is to ask questions. Don’t be afraid. Don’t wait.”
Cindy Arenburg Seltzer is president and CEO of the Children’s Services Council of Broward County, Florida. She said the Parkland tragedy proved that we all need to work to get over the stigma associated with mental health problems and an inability to ask for help when we’re struggling.
She said it’s important for parents to look for suicide warning signs, like kids who hurt themselves or stop taking part in activities.
“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.”
Aiello loved yoga and her mom said she wanted to dedicate her life to helping others.