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Stolen by Suicide Memorial Scroll remembers victims

GREEN FOREST — Suicide is a problem all across the world and Lynette Fultz said she thinks one way to help stem that tide is sunshine.

“The less we talk about it the more people we’re going to lose, I believe,” she said.

Fultz is keeping a scroll of names of suicide victims. It’s a project that became very close to her when her own son, Ryan Grassel, took his life on Dec. 24, 2016, at the age of 27.

His death was devastating. She began to understand the devastation other people feel as well when she joined support groups.

Every suicide affects a multitude of people, with an astounding ripple effect. There are names on the scroll of parents who committed suicide because they could no longer deal with the grief of a child’s suicide.

She started the scroll after her first Out of the Darkness Walk. Those are events sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and are held all across the country to give people the courage to open up about their own personal struggles or loss, and help change the community’s approach to mental health.

She was going to another such walk and asked people in some of her support groups if they wanted to submit the names of loved ones they lost so she could write them down and take them on the walk.

“The names started coming in and they never stopped,” Fultz said. “They’d just come in constantly, so I couldn’t stop writing them.”

The first scroll was on paper and it soon was torn apart. So, she bought material often used for outdoor banners and started again.

“And now this is going to be a life-long thing I do until I can’t do it anymore,” she said.

The current scroll is about 160 feet long and contains about 1,100 names, but it’s just a start. She will soon add another section to it.

“It would take three scrolls, top to bottom, every day, for everybody that dies by suicide daily world-wide,” Fultz said. “It would take 27-and-a-half miles of that one scroll right there for everybody that dies by suicide yearly.”

She doesn’t know exactly what has caused such an uptick in suicides. Part of it could be a detachment from people due to the prevalence of social media. Perhaps it has something to do with behavioral drugs people are taking. “My son was on anti-depressants,” she said. In some cases, it’s believed that bullying of children has caused suicides. The youngest victim on the scroll so far was a 9-year-old boy.

Every suicide affects a multitude of people, with an astounding ripple effect. There are names on the scroll of parents who committed suicide because they could no longer deal with the grief of a child’s suicide.

There is a stigma attached to suicide, but it needs daylight to make that go away. Fultz said that she struggles with her son’s suicide every day. She dabs away tears while admitting she’s never truly happy even though she has four other children, a wonderful husband and a good business — she’s the co-owner of Jim’s Drive In.

“I don’t know what to do to stop this, but I want to do whatever I can,” she said. “People don’t talk about it enough. That’s the problem. If it doesn’t get talked about we’re going to lose more people.”

In retrospect, she looks back at the messages her son posted on Facebook. She said he was classified as a genius, but those posts screamed out for help with depression.

She wants everyone to know that talking to someone about suicide, someone who is crying out for help, isn’t likely to make them follow through with it. In fact, it could be the very solution.

Fultz told the Daily Times that the scroll needs to be unrolled in order to grasp its power. On a windy Saturday morning, she enlisted her husband, Steve, son, Jace, 8, and daughter, Anistyn, 11, to help. It took up much of the entire concrete pad on which the Dollar General store is built.

She feels a kinship with all the families of people whose names are on the scroll. She wants to be an advocate for all of them so the scroll doesn’t grow so rapidly.

“It’s not OK,” she said.

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