At the age of 15, Logan Frisby, now a sophomore studying mechanical engineering, spoke at the funeral of his best friend, Robert.
“He was the kind of kid who could walk into a room and no matter how you’re feeling, you would be smiling by the end of it. From ear to ear,” said Frisby. “He would just do something to you, and there was just something about him.”
In 2013, an exchange student, known by his American friends as Robert, decided to end his life. He left his family and friends behind to grieve.
“I was 15, and I had to share how I knew him in front of his parents who flew from China, since he was a foreign exchange student,” Frisby said.
Frisby later discovered that his friend, Robert, was gay and had been put in a mental institution while living in China for this reason. Frisby said that after Robert made it to America, he experienced freedom and acceptance that was unavailable to him in China.
Robert’s friends and family assumed he ended his life because he did not want to return to the oppression he once felt. The details of Robert’s life were revealed only after his death, leaving Frisby and others feeling like they could have helped more.
Frisby spent months with a counselor looking for reasons why this event took place. He eventually realized that no matter what information he discovered, he needed to understand he did all he could to help his friend.
“It’s not your fault,” Frisby said. “No matter what you think you could’ve done, they had made their mind up that they were going to try. That was the hardest thing for me to understand at the time. Honestly, just help them know that you’re there. Because, you can say something a million times, but if you prove that you’re there it means so much more.”
Since this experience, Frisby has become a lifeline for his friends and family by providing strength to those around him. Though he admits it can take a toll on his emotions, he believes it is worth it.
“It’s been seven years and I still think about him almost every day,” Frisby said. “His parents gave me a red and blue envelope with Chinese money in it, it symbolizes good fortune. I bring it around with me everywhere I move.”
With this tangible memory of his friend, Robert, Frisby continues to maintain the positive outlook this experience helped him discover.
“This life is not meant to be lived alone. We meet each other for a reason,” Frisby said.