Original article no longer available
By Larry Fisher-Hertz
Published Oct 8, 2005
Keeping busy enables healing
More than a year has passed since 18-year-old Nick Ferraro hung himself in his Town of Poughkeepsie home.
His parents are still trying to fathom why, and said they’ll never fully recover from their loss.
“The word suicide was never in my vocabulary,” Nick’s mother, Linda Ferraro, said in a recent interview, “and to this day we have no understanding as to what happened.”
Nick was an outwardly happy teenager who enjoyed and excelled at several sports at Roy C. Ketcham High School, his mother said, and he had no history of any medical or mental health issues – until about a month before his death.
Her son first told her and her husband, John, he was feeling depressed, early last summer, she said. Their family physician had prescribed medication for him and he seemed to be feeling better.
Just hours before Nick committed suicide Aug. 20, 2004, his mother said, he asked her if she thought it was all right for him to consume a protein drink, wondering if it might conflict with his medication.
“He was concerned about his health just before (the suicide) happened,” she said.
The entire family had sought counseling following his death, Ferraro said.
“Suicide is very different from dealing with a natural death,” she said. “You keep asking yourself what you might have done.
“I felt like someone was pulling on my heart,” she said. “My chest was very heavy. I could not listen to music, watch TV, nothing. Life’s going on around you, but it’s all so incidental.”
Belongings brought back
In an attempt to spare her from the pain of seeing her son’s things in his room, Ferraro said, her husband and their other three children moved much of it out of the house in the days following the funeral. She made them put it all back.
In the last several months, she said, she has given many of his belongings to his former girlfriend and other friends but needed to do it at her own pace.
“I still keep a basket of his pictures on an end table, and every couple of days, I put one up to remember different stages of his life,” she said.
Ferraro said the scars of Nick’s death had gradually begun to heal as milestones such as birthdays and holidays passed for the first time.
“I can say I am getting better,” she said. “I can say his name more often. For a long time, I’d think of him and just start crying.
“His birthday was in November, so that was the first big day I had to get through. Then there was Christmas, and now the anniversary of his death.”
She had tried to keep busy at her job ? she sells real estate ? and with raising her other children, Ferraro said.
“It helps that you can’t just think about yourself but about your family,” she said.
Ferraro said she had talked to school officials about instituting some kind of program that will enable students to talk about issues such as death and suicide.
“We don’t talk about death in this society, especially the young,” she said. “I guess there’s a fear that once you bring it up you’ll give them one more thing to worry about. I leave it to the experts to determine the best ways to approach it.”
Larry Fisher-Hertz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org