A year after this photo was taken, high school friends Sydney and Meadow are both gone.

Warning: This post deals with suicide, and may be triggering for some readers.

Two school friends smiling widely into the camera, both in their final year of high school, both with their whole lives ahead of them.

Lives which were cut short by an unfathomable act of evil.

The photo shows former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Sydney Aiello and Meadow Pollack, both victims of the Florida school shooting which claimed the lives of three staff members and 14 students last Valentine’s Day.

Meadow was killed in the gunman’s open fire, but Sydney, 19, who manage to escape, took her own life last weekend, crippled by survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Yet another tragic loss for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community to mourn.

Sydney’s mother, Cara Aiello, told CBS Miami her daughter had struggled immensely with her mental health in the year following the tragedy. While she reportedly never asked for help, her PTSD left her afraid of being in a classroom, making it difficult to attend college classes to become the medical professional she aspired to be.


Sydney was close friends with Meadow Pollack, one of the students who was mercilessly shot and killed in the Parkland mass shooting. And whose father, Andrew Pollack, became the face of the Parkland victims when he made a powerful address to the White House just a few days after the shooting, calling for an increase in school safety rather than changes to America’s gun laws.

But while the nation’s attention turned to Meadow, and other Parkland survivors featured in the documentary “39 Days”, which showcased the birth of a movement for safer schools in the US, others, like the Sydney, suffered in silence.

Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina died in the shooting, told CBS Miami he was worried others involved would take their own lives in the wake of the attack too, vowing to channel his grief into ensuring other teens have the support they need.

“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.”

There is now a GoFundMe page to help Sydney Aiello’s family pay for her memorial services.

“Sydney spent 19 years writing her story as a beloved daughter, sister and friend to many,” the page reads.

“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. 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.”

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue at 1300 22 4636.