A student who survived the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last year has died by suicide, her family said this week.
Sydney Aiello graduated last spring from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where months earlier a former student had opened fire, killing 17 people and injuring over a dozen others.
Among those killed was 18-year-old Meadow Pollack, a close friend of Aiello’s.
Cara Aiello, the teen’s mother, told CBS Miami that her daughter experienced survivor’s guilt and had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She had difficulty attending college classes due to fears about being inside a classroom, her mother said.
Brett Litz, a Boston University psychiatry professor who specializes in trauma, said survivors may experience a range of effects after a mass shooting.
“It depends on proximity to horrific loss of life and injury and the degree of direct life threat,” Litz said in an email to HuffPost. “There is no one way but in the immediate aftermath (hours, days, weeks) most are stunned and shocked and full of extreme emotions, particularly fear and sadness, but also psychological states of bewilderment and despair.”
It’s common for survivors to experience “incapacitation” and an inability to continue normal activities, he said.
Though most survivors do not develop mental disorders, those who do “can be suffering PTSD symptoms, survivor guilt, grief, and depression,” Litz said.
He added: “Having intimate, caring, and compassionate supports and resources (financial, etc), having faith or a spiritual practice, not having early abuse and neglect experiences, and talking to professionals can all reduce risk for mental disorders.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.