NEWPORT CITY - With the exception of a few sniffles, not a sound could be heard in Gardner Park Saturday morning as Betty Barrett told the heartbreaking story of how her son, Michael â€śGuidoâ€ť Narducci, lost his life to suicide.
With her second husband behind her, holding her for support, she recalled the abuse her now ex-husband gave her and family â€śrelentless.â€ť She explained how her ex-husband referred to Michael as a loser. After their divorce, Barrettâ€™s ex-husband even lied to their children about her, she said.
Michael eventually removed himself from the family. It wasnâ€™t until Sept. 11, 2001, that Barrett decided to look for her son. She eventually located him in Pennsylvania and brought him to Vermont, but that reunion was short lived. Michael took his life in 2004.
â€śThe time came when the pain it took to stay was greater than the pain it took to go,â€ť said Barrett in tears. â€śPeople who die by suicide donâ€™t want to end their lives. They want to end the pain.â€ť
Barrett knows first hand how that is. She is a survivor of a suicide attempt and planned to try it again after Michael died. As she was making her plans, her bracelet with a silver heart, which had the inscription of her name and her sonâ€™s name, slipped off her wrist and fell to the floor of her car.
â€śI knew it was a sign from my son not to do it,â€ť said Barrett. She went in the house and had her current husband remove all the weapons. She also got into counseling. â€śI think of my son every day. Some things you never forget. I miss my son so much.â€ť
Barrett is pleased there is now a local support group, which is part of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Before that, there was no organization for her to go to and she suffered in silence.
On Saturday morning, Barrett was one of 254 individuals who took part in an AFSP Out of the Darkness suicide awareness walk. Walkers were not required to pay a fee to walk, but those who did helped raise $23,229, well over the goal of $5,000. Proceeds will benefit the AFSP.
AFSP supports scientific research to improve the understanding of suicide and its prevention. Since 2000, AFSP has invested more than $10 million in new studies that include research and treatment for people who suffer from depression and are suicidal. AFSP also provides education and information about suicide and depression to professionals, media and the public.
â€śSuicides in this area are at an epidemic proportion,â€ť Mary Butler told the large crowd prior to the walk.
Members of the Veteranâ€™s of Foreign Wars attended the walk to represent the military, which is losing one person a day to suicide. Constance Nadeau, president of the Morrisville VFW Ladies Auxiliary, explained that September is Military Suicide Awareness Month. The VFW Auxiliary members also walked for member Sadie Waters who lost her grandson, Shawn Chaput, to suicide.
Event organizations explained there is no right or wrong answer for someone who is depressed; people do not want to be depressed, people may not know they are depressed and depression is not a choice.
â€śYou wake up one day and itâ€™s a bad day or you wake up one day and itâ€™s a good day,â€ť said Chaput, whose advice to depressed individuals is to reach out to others for help. â€śThose who suffer from depression donâ€™t realize how many people need them or love them. They would be surprised if they would just ask for the help how many people would be there willing to help them.â€ť
Chaput and others want the public to say that a person "lost his or her life to suicide" rather than committed suicide, because they feel suicide is not a clear choice.
â€śTo say they committed it would be like they committed a crime and we donâ€™t feel they committed a crime,â€ť said Chaput.
Many of the people at the walk joined teams and wore clothing in remembrance of a loved one who lost a life to suicide. Some also wore blue teardrops in memory of military personnel and others wore beads with each color representing something different â€“ white for the loss of a child, red for the loss of a spouse or partner, gold for the loss of a parent, orange for the loss of a sibling, purple for the loss of another relative or friend, silver for the loss of a military member, green for personal struggle, and blue to support the cause.