The day Cody E. Butz killed himself, “he kissed me on the cheek and told me he loved me,” his mother, Carin Trecannelli, remembered.
That was atypical behavior for him. Usually, Cody licked her face playfully instead of kissing her.
It also wasn’t normal that Cody, 18, was awake before his mother left for work at 7:30 a.m. that day and that he had made coffee for her. Later in the day, he did all of his laundry.
“He was saying goodbye to me and I didn’t realize it,” Carin said.
She and her husband of two years, Stephen Trecannelli, said Cody struggled for years with depression.
He was admitted to Brook Lane, a mental health-services provider, in 2010 and again in 2011, they said.
At-home counseling helped, but Cody, a senior at Clear Spring High School, masked his mental illness.
“He fooled everybody into thinking he was OK,” Carin said.
Carin tried not to leave Cody on his own and sometimes paid someone to spend time with him.
But on Dec. 21, 2011, he seemed OK. It wasn’t until late in the morning, when Carin replayed Cody’s earlier actions in her head, that she called Stephen to share her concerns.
When she got back to their home on Broadfording Road, Cody was dead.
According to state data, 23 people died of suicide in Washington County last year. Carin said survivors struggle with unanswerable questions — namely: why? — and often don’t know how to cope.
She is speaking out about her son’s death, hoping to encourage other families to feel more comfortable about sharing their pain.
One of her main goals is organizing a suicide survivors walk at Byron Memorial Park in Williamsport in June 2013.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a nonprofit organization, sponsors Out of the Darkness Community Walks across the country. Carin Trecannelli is taking part in one in Annapolis on Nov. 10.
Half of the money raised through a walk goes to the national office and half goes to the local chapter, foundation spokesman Wylie Tené said.
The foundation offers programs and films to help educators and parents learn more about suicide. It also supports research, sponsors International Survivors of Suicide Day and trains volunteer advocates.
Life takes a U-turn
Carin said her life took a U-turn, out of a black hole, when she channeled her grief into beneficial causes.
She credited her husband for assuring her that God will help heal her. She became a born-again Christian.
She has collected $1,500 from people dropping spare change in a bucket at her home.