Chad Rowland remembers the night of Aug. 12, 2020.
It seemed like any other Wednesday. He came home from work with take-out from Chipotle for himself and his son, Bryce.
Bryce’s mom, Carrie, recalls they had plans to go to Hocking Hills as a family later that week. They never ended up going.
Everything changed that night when Bryce died by suicide.
The Rowlands had their lives turned upside down as they grieved and wondered why.
September is National Suicide Awareness month, and as they continue to grieve, Bryce’s family also wants to help keep his memory alive by raising awareness through an annual fundraiser and by sharing their story.
Crash in Wayne county:Wooster woman dies after motorcycle, pickup collides at intersection
Understanding suicide and how it affects people
Bryce’s parents, who are divorced (mom lives in Wayne County and dad in Ashland County) and brother, Caleb, said he was always a jokester with a beautiful smile and contagious laugh. He was 21 years old when he died. He graduated from Northwestern High School in 2017.
During his years in school, Bryce stayed active with sports, fixing up his trucks and learning construction skills like plumbing and flooring. His freshman year he lettered in three sports — baseball, golf and wrestling.
Over the years, Carrie Rowland said, they knew he had some typical teen angst and adult struggles, but they never knew exactly what Bryce was dealing with since he didn’t reach out for help.
Not knowing what is going on in someone’s mind can sometimes be the hardest thing for a family, mental health counselor Ed Dickerhoof said.
Dickerhoof, who works at Aultman Medical Group Behavioral Health and Counseling Center and has 20 years of experience as a counselor, said people who have suicidal thoughts sometimes don’t see any other way out of the challenges they are facing in life.
“Time alone in their head can be kind of dangerous,” Dickerhoof said. “Help them see a future. Help them see past whatever it is, in any way you can because if they’re not able to see a way out, that’s what makes it dangerous.”
Harassment probe at Orrville High:High School teacher remains barred from classroom amid sexual harassment review
Grief takes many forms, including guilt
After Bryce died, each member of the Rowland family grieved in their own way.
Caleb’s friends reached out to him and found ways they could spend time together so they could support him as he worked through his thoughts and emotions.
Therapy and research were the two things Carrie turned to as she tried to make sense of what happened.
Those are two of the many ways people grieve, Dickerhoof said, and that grief can turn into guilt when people feel like they are somehow to blame.
“The thing that makes (suicide) so different than any other grief is there was a choice involved,” Dickerhoof said. “…There’s always that sense of it could have been prevented and often people feel like it’s a direct statement of anger to them .”
Dickerhoof said a lot of people can get caught up in that “I could have or I should have prevented it” mindset, but those thoughts only create unrealistic expectations that they must struggle to get past.
Helping others through awareness and fundraising
One of the best ways to help prevent suicide is by talking about it, Dickerhoof said, which is why it is important to get people to open up about their struggles.
“It’s one of the questions we ask, ‘Have you considered suicide? Do you have thoughts?’,” Dickerhoof said. “And obviously people are a little reluctant … but I always tell them we gotta talk about it because that’s the best thing (to do).”
The Rowlands said talking about Bryce’s death has helped them so they could share how it has affected them while also bringing awareness to the topic of suicide.
That led them to hold a golf fundraiser this summer in memory of Bryce, bringing together over 120 people and raising $18,600. The money was donated to nonprofit mental health agencies and animal shelters throughout Ashland and Wayne counties to get others the help they need.
Although they could not help their son, Chad Rowland said they wanted to help destigmatize suicide, so others don’t have to experience what they went through.
“Sometimes you can’t talk to your mom and dad,” Rowland said. “Maybe they don’t have the answers, but your mom and dad will know somebody or get a hold of somebody … that can help you that will get the right help for you.”
Suicide & Crisis Lifeline – 988
If you or someone you know needs support for mental health or suicidal thoughts, call, text or chat 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988 and 988lifeline.org
Other resources from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 741-741 to text with a trained crisis counselor free, 24/7.
Veterans Crisis Line: Send a text to 838255 for veteran-focused help.
Vets4Warriors: Visit vets4warriors.com for 24/7 military peer support program staffed by veterans.
SAMHSA Treatment Referral Hotline (Substance Abuse): Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for free and confidential information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention and recovery.
RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline: Call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: Call 1-866-331-9474
The Trevor Project: Call 1-866-488-7386
Contact Rachel at [email protected]