One year on, 16-year-old Parkland shooting survivor says she misses best friend killed in class 'every second of the day'
It has been over a year since the February 14, 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida claimed the lives of 17 students and staff members and injured 17 others.
Those involved in such horrific mass shootings struggle to put the horrific events behind them for years.
Recently, two Parkland students — 16-year-old sophomore Calvin Desir and 2018 graduate Sydney Aiello, 19 — died by suicide. As did Jeremy Richman, whose 6-year-old daughter Avielle was among the 26 people murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
To honor the memories of those lost and to raise awareness about mental health issues that can linger after gun violence, People spoke with six Parkland students about their experiences.
16-year-old Emily Burke is a soccer player at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She says the pain, fear and anguish of February 14, 2018, has yet to subside for her.
The horrific memories of hiding in a window-less classroom and losing her best friend Alyssa Alhadeff are too vivid for the 16-year-old. She told the publication that she misses Alhadeff "pretty much every second of the day."
"I have to go to soccer and my friend isn't there."
Burke admits that she finds it difficult to get out of bed on some days. She said she visited a therapist because she is concerned about PTSD, depression and anxiety. She has also been visiting the school's wellness center for support.
"Obviously I think most people have anxiety at the school. Depression doesn't stay with you during the school day, it follows you home," she says.
The 16-year-old also said that most of the Parkland students she knows are grappling with mental health concerns similar to those faced by veterans who have returned from combat. She experiences flashbacks and has developed a fear of loud, unexpected noises, such as the rattling of garbage cans or unexpected fire drills.
"We have to deal with the same disease as soldiers. We're just kids who went to school. People in the military are adults and they go in knowing what to expect. But we're half their ages and didn't sign up for it," she says.
If you know someone who is grappling with suicide and suicidal tendencies, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "home" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.