19-year-old Sydney Aiello took her own life this weekend, her mother announced on Friday, more than a year after surviving the mass shooting at Parkland, FL’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Speaking with CBS Miami, Cara Aiello said her daughter had recently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and had grappled with survivor’s guilt following the Parkland shootings in February 2018, which killed 17 people, including Sydney’s close friend Meadow Pollack. While Aiello was at school on the day of the shooting, her mother said she was not in the building where the murders took place.
Aiello was in her first year in college. Heartbreakingly, her mother said that her daughter struggled with attendance in college because, in CBS Miami’s words, she was “afraid to be in a classroom.”
On a crowdfunding page shared by Pollack’s brother Hunter and run by Aiello family friends Brett and Blair Israel, Sydney is described as someone who “lit up every room she entered” and aspired to be a medical professional in the future. At this time, the page—which has been accepting donations for just one day—has already surpassed its $20,000 goal, with over $22,000 donated so far.
Speaking with CBS Miami, Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina was killed in the Parkland shooting, urged families affected by the violence to be proactive in seeking help.
“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.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide or self harm, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free, round the clock resources and support.