The Fierce Life and Sudden Death of Rebecca Lorch

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She and her partner arrived home to find Ms. Lorch dead in her bathroom.

It is natural to seek a clean explanation after a suicide. Ms. Lorch was dealing with a relationship she considered abusive and the self-recrimination that came with staying in it for three years. But she also faced the fear of a lawsuit or physical confrontation, the effects of steroids, the double standard applied to female athletes, 75-hour work weeks, chronic pain from past injuries, plus whatever emotional turbulence or depression she carried with her to the gym.

Anthony Fuhrman, a strongman champion who also ran a tournament, said he bonded with Ms. Lorch over their respective traumas, and they became like brother and sister. After she died, he posted on Instagram about his own suicidal thoughts, saying, “Rebecca Lorch saved my life.” With her death, he sold his interest in the tournament and started the #JusticeForRebecca campaign. “She touched a lot of lives,” he said.

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“A lot of times this sport does attract people who are already searching for something,” Mr. Fuhrman said. “It attracts people because it is a community, and it’s about empowering, it’s about getting strong. It attracts broken souls. When you throw drugs on top of those broken souls like myself, it compounds the issues.”

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United States Strongman is now developing a formal policy regarding harassment and sexual conduct, said William Wessels, the president and owner. He said the organization has banned three male athletes since 2020.

Ms. Steiner searched her daughter’s phone and computer for answers but found nothing that might have set her off. Ms. Lorch’s final text was to a friend, making plans for the following week. “I never in a million years thought she — ” Ms. Steiner said, her voice trailing off.

“We think this was a very sudden thought process,” she said, finally. “She just suddenly said, ‘That’s it,’ and because of her personality, she just did it.”

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.

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