‘Mental health shouldn’t be shamed’: Shelburne family advises to heed lost life as warning

The family of Jennifer Grace Jarvis, 45, has established a GoFundMe to accept donations to cover her funeral, celebration of life and legal expenses pertaining to her estate. Jarvis was killed on June 10 after being struck by a train in Shelburne.

The family of Jennifer Grace Jarvis, 45, has established a GoFundMe to accept donations to cover her funeral, celebration of life and legal expenses pertaining to her estate. Jarvis was killed on June 10 after being struck by a train in Shelburne. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 06-22-2024 3:22 PM

Modified: 06-23-2024 7:21 PM


SHELBURNE — A local family mourning a loved one’s unexpected death is imploring the public to listen to their story and understand the importance of helping people through their struggles with mental health.

Jennifer Grace Jarvis, 45, died at around 5 a.m. on June 10 after intentionally being struck by a Berkshire & Eastern Railroad freight train about a half-mile from the Bardwell’s Ferry Bridge. Her brother, Matthew Jarvis, is sounding the alarm in the hope that this tragedy will save someone’s life in the future.

“Mental health shouldn’t be shamed,” he said.

Jarvis said his sister, a 1996 Greenfield High School graduate, had recently started displaying erratic behavior after taking some type of substance at a local music festival. He said he convinced her to visit an emergency room for professional help and she was eventually signed into Clinical & Support Options in Greenfield before leaving.

“Her behavior was getting a little worse and a little worse and a little worse,” Jarvis recalled.

He said his sister returned to his mother’s house in Shelburne and decided to sleep outdoors. He said this was not unusual because Jennifer was a “hippie, nature person.” However, Jarvis said, he could not locate her on the morning of June 10 and his searches were fruitless. He mentioned a friend even took it upon himself to use an ATV to search the woods for his sister, to no avail.

Later that day, Jarvis said he called the Shelburne Control Dispatch Center to report his sister missing and was visited a few hours later by local police officers, state troopers and a social worker. He said that was when he was informed his sister was struck and killed by a train, and that “it was intentional.” He said his sister likely left the property in the middle of the night and was later identified by her fingerprints.

“Now I’m in a spot I never thought I’d be in,” he said.

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Jarvis said he received assistance establishing a GoFundMe account [tinyurl.com/JenniferGraceJarvis] to accept donations to cover his sister’s funeral, celebration of life and legal expenses pertaining to her estate. As of this point, the fundraiser has brought in more than $12,000, with a goal of $18,777.

“The support is really, like, a miracle,” he said on Friday, adding that the donated money will also pay for the care of their uncle, as Jennifer was his primary caregiver.

Jennifer’s mother, Patricia, said the outpouring of support has been overwhelming, with old friends of hers and her daughter’s reaching out for the first time in decades.

“I’m definitely reconnecting with old friends of Jen from high school and childhood,” she said. “It’s really profoundly helping me with healing, to try to make a little more sense out of it.”

She said one of her daughter’s closest friends donated an entire $1,500 paycheck. Patricia also said two of her nieces visited from Nova Scotia, Canada, to help in the immediate aftermath of her daughter’s death.

“It’s been very loving,” she said.

Jarvis said he works for a Northampton construction company that has been gracious about giving him time off to grieve and handle his sister’s affairs. He also said many of his coworkers have contributed to the GoFundMe. “Everyone has been so supportive,” he said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Alternatively, help is available by calling or texting 988.

Reach Domenic Poli at dpoli@recorder.com.