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Mental Health

Parkland’s Impact on the World — One Year Later

Last year was a traumatic year for many. It seemed like every week there were heartbreaking headlines about “another school shooting”, and the most devastating one being Parkland, Florida. It’s been a little over one year since the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and the March For Our Lives event in Washington, DC. However, the trauma from the shooting is still as fresh in some minds as the moment it happened. 

According to the Miami Herald, “A week after Sydney Aiello graduated from her Parkland high school last June, the teen shared a suicide awareness post encouraging others to check on those friends who “seem the strongest,” citing the publicized celebrity suicides of Robin Williams, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.” Perhaps this was her way of asking for help. 

Meadow Pollack (left) and Sydney Aiello (right). 


Last week, Sydney took her own life. She was present the day the gunman killed 17 people — including her best friend, Meadow Pollack — and injured another 17 after opening fire with an assault rifle on Valentine’s Day, 2018. 

Her parents say she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Survivor’s Guilt. Survivor’s Guilt is “a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress experienced by someone who has survived an incident in which others died.” The heartbreak that the victims’ families have felt and continue to feel is unfathomable. Their children’s names will live on forever. 

Shortly after Aiello’s suicide, another Parkland survivor’s life was taken through suicide for the same awful reasons. He was a current sophomore at the high school. These losses are weighing heavy on the community, and the stories have resonated with the world.

It is also apparent that a father of a Sandy Hook shooting victim may have taken his life days after the news of the Parkland students. These traumatic and heartbreaking events have pointed the spotlight on mental health issues including PTSD, Survivor’s Guilt, and Depression. Moments like these remind us to check in on our friends and family — even the ones who may seem the strongest. Everyone is fighting a battle that you may know nothing about.


So, what should we do?

1. Ask the tough questions. Don’t be afraid to be direct when talking to someone you care about regarding mental health. Remind them that you love and appreciate them. 


2. Educate yourself. Don’t assume you know everything about mental health issues like survivor’s guilt. It’s one thing to understand what a certain illness is, but it’s another thing to experience it every day. 


3. Remind your loved ones of the available resources. Suicide is preventable, and it is never the answer. Even when things don’t seem like they could get any worse, you are never alone, and there is always help.


If you or a loved one struggles with mental health, or have thoughts of suicide, tell someone. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Don’t wait. 


You are loved. Remember, #ThisLifeNeedsYouInIt (a hashtag used by Sydney Aiello).




Saint Joseph's University Campus Correspondent
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