Feature: A Family Torn Apart

by Logan Sherwood

(image: Bryana Williams)

Bryana Williams only cried once. “He is missing out on a lot,” she said. “Everything has changed.”


On April 26, 2016 Bryana Williams was sitting in her high school library in Vermont. Her cell phone rang. It was her mother:

“I found Cody. He is dead.”

“What do you mean?”

“He shot himself. Go pick up your brother.”


Cody called out of work, went to his grandparents land where they typically hunt, and shot himself in the head with a .357 revolver. He left his younger siblings, 17 year old Bryana and 14 year old Dylan, without an older brother forever. He was seated in his car, dead, until his mother found him hours later.


Just eleven years prior, on the exact same day, April 26, Bryana’s father hung himself.


“How can you choose to leave four kids?” she asked.  “I don’t understand.”


Cody’s suicide led Bryana’s mother, a recovering alcoholic, to relapse. With no father, no older brother, and an alcoholic mother, Bryana’s role transformed. This year, as a sophomore in highschool, Dylan went to Bryana for his $160 football cleats, not his mother.


“He is my best friend,” she said about Dylan. “He means a lot to me.”


A 4.0 student at Franklin Pierce University, Bryana manages a suicide prevention team that walks every year in Newport, Vt. Last year the team raised over $2000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  


She still has many questions about Cody’s death. Bryana does know one thing about her brother, however, “He would say that he is proud of me, that’s what he always says.”


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