WOODSTOCK – Matthew Fritz loved his brother but hated the man who took him away.
Those feelings left Fritz feeling conflicted for nearly a year because his brother and that man were the same person.
Fritz was one of many who came out to the First United Methodist Church in Woodstock on Saturday night to reflect on loved ones lost to suicide during a Day of Remembrance. The event featured personal stories, poems and original songs, including two by Fritz.
One of his songs, “Those Men,” was about military members coming back home as they can often struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. His other song, “My Brother,” was about his personal experience. Each person affected by suicide can have different emotions, he said, which is why each story, song or poem is important.
“I spent the first year being really angry at my brother,” he said, recounting the 39-year-old’s untimely death on July 15, 2012. “I’ve gotten to the point where I am upset and sad but not mad. I know there are places for me to reach out to.”
While Fritz struggled with anger in the wake of his brother’s suicide, others such as Gale Lynd have felt guilt and questioned whether there was more she could have done for her daughter.
Lynd, who walked down to her basement on May 3 to find her 18-year-old daughter had hung herself, said she questions what could have been different all the time. She later discovered seven anti-depressant pills in her daughter’s purse, and the coroner said the weeklong break from her medication could have played a role.
“The hard thing is you want to know why,” Lynd said. “It’s unlike any other death ... it’s a choice they make. The only thing that has been helping is talking to other people who have lost someone to suicide. It’s a very unique connection and a little comfort knowing there are people walking that road with you.”
Though each person affected by suicide had different emotions in the wake of each death, all of those in attendance wanted to fight the stigma that comes with the subject and the mental illnesses often associated with suicide.
Fritz said he understands why people shy away from the subject of suicide, but it is an important public issue.
“How are you supposed to react? All you say is you’re sorry and what can I do,” Fritz said. “The stigma that goes along with suicide is something we all need to work on.”