A teen survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., has died by suicide.
Nineteen-year-old Sydney Aiello took her life over the weekend, mom Cara Aiello told Tampa news station WFLA, after suffering from survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sydney was at school on February 14, 2018, when a gunman opened fire, killing 17 people. She was reportedly close friends with student Meadow Pollack, who died that day.
Cara, who did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, told WFLA that Sydney had difficulty in school because she was scared to sit in class. However, she didn’t seek help.
On Wednesday, a GoFundMe page was created by Brett and Blair Israel, friends of the Aiello family, to pay for her funeral. So far, it’s raised almost $8,000. “Sydney Aiello was born on January 27th, 2000,” read the fundraiser. “She was welcomed into this world by her loving family: her parents Cara and Joe, and her brother Nick.”
“Sydney spent 19 years writing her story as a beloved daughter, sister and friend to many,” the Israels wrote. “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.”
They concluded, “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.”
Neither the Israels or representatives of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the Broward County Public Schools district responded to Yahoo Lifestyle interview requests.
Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina died in the massacre, told WFLA, “It breaks my heart that we’ve lost yet another student from Stoneman Douglas.” Petty urged parents to check in on their children, asking questions like, “Have you thought of killing yourself and have you had any intention of acting on those thoughts?”
Julie Cerel, PhD., a licensed psychologist at the University of Kentucky and president of the American Association of Suicidology tells Yahoo Lifestyle that research on survivor’s guilt is scarce due to sensitivity factors toward victims. However, post-traumatic stress syndrome is one risk factor for suicide, because it forces victims to mentally relive the trauma.
According to the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide, feeling burdensome, isolated, and having a low threshold for death, are drivers of suicide. “Experiencing any of these demotivates someone to get help,” Cerel tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Especially if they’re involved in a public trauma with the whole world watching.”
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
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