Many times, drug abuse and mental health issues go hand and hand…Summer was recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
‘Stop the stigma,’ says Summer’s mom
by Melissa Hale-Spencer
After Summer Smith died last Jan. 9, her mother and her young son went through her box of special keepsakes. In the box was an edition of The Altamont Enterprise devoted to the aftermath of a 2000 crash on Hurst Road that killed two teens and wounded a third. The kids had been hotboxing — driving while stoned.
Summer, then a 17-year-old Guilderland High School senior, was friends with a classmate who died in the crash. Summer — a beautiful young woman with her hair pulled back in a ponytail and a ring piercing her eyebrow — is pictured in the paper holding a flier of the girl who had died: “Help keep the memory of all the kids that we have lost,” she had carefully written on a paper bordered with hand-drawn flowers.
Summer was raising money for a $19,000 bronze angel statue to stand in Altamont’s village green. “The angel represents people who have lost people,” Summer told us then. She also said, “No one would think this could happen to people our age.”
Her mother, Kristin Smith-Hoin, finds both irony and comfort in the keepsake. Summer died of a drug overdose. She was 31.
The bronze statue still stands in Altamont and Smith-Hoin planned to take Summer’s son, Richie, there to visit it. She is honest with Richie about his mother’s death.
She wants to share Summer’s story to end the stigma associated with drug addiction.