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Parkland survivor dies by suicide; her mother hopes her daughter's story can help save others

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Posted at 12:10 PM, Mar 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-29 11:30:26-04

PARKLAND, Fla. — Sydney Aiello,19, was a young woman who a Marjory Stoneman Douglas teacher described as a joy to have in class.

Aiello was close friends with Parkland shooting victim Meadow Pollack. Aiello's mother said that Sydney felt survivor's guilt and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after being on campus the day of the shooting last year.

SPECIAL SECTION: More Parkland coverage

Aiello's mom said Sydney struggled to attend college classes because she was afraid of being in a classroom and was sad but never asked for help before she killed herself.

Her mom hopes Sydney's story can help save others.

"It breaks my heart that we've lost yet another student from Stoneman Douglas," said Ryan Petty.

Petty's daughter Alaina died in the shooting. He's focused a lot of effort on suicide prevention since the Parkland tragedy, worried that those traumatized might take their own lives.

Petty says people need to ask questions to 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," Petty said.

Cindy Arenberg Seltzer is president and CEO of the Children's Services Council of Broward County. She said there are lots of community resources like the 211 hotline and a new program called Eagles' Haven opening next month in Coral Springs

Seltzer 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.

RELATED: Where to turn if you have thoughts of suicide

She said it's important for parents to look for suicide warning signs like kids who hurt themselves or stop taking part in important 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," Arenberg Seltzer said.

Aiello loved yoga and her mom said she wanted to dedicate her life towards helping others. Now, you can help her family by donating money to a GoFundMe account in her memory.