suicide

The first death was on the night of Jan. 9.

It was a Saturday. Pele Kristiansen spent the morning at home, drinking beers and hanging out with his older brother, which wasn't so unusual. There wasn't a lot of work in town. A lot of people drank. In the afternoon, they heard someone banging on their door, yelling.

"Polar bear! It's a polar bear!"

On the frozen fjord a couple of miles away, they could see the bear. Hunting in the Arctic — bears and reindeer and seals and birds — is at the core of Inuit life, even today.

Marny Lombard has this advice on preventing suicide: "Reach out. Connect. Encourage your children to connect. That is how we thrive. If you see loneliness, reach out to it. Wrap your arms around the lonely. Maybe figuratively, maybe actually.”
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Marny Lombard lost her only child to suicide. Samuel Henderson Lombard was 22.

Lombard told Bill Radke how that loss led her to become an advocate for suicide prevention. Lombard is an organizer with Zero Suicide: Inland Northwest and a volunteer with Forefront at the University of Washington.

In the future, mental health professionals may not be the only people spreading the word about suicide prevention.

The message could also come from people you’d least likely expect to be front-line educators on suicide awareness: pharmacists, firearm dealers, shooting range operators, and even Fish and Wildlife staff.

Bill Radke speaks with Dr. Jennifer Stuber, professor in the UW's School of Social Work and founder of the suicide prevention organization Forefront, about Washington state's new Suicide Prevention Plan.

Each year, nearly three times as many Americans die from suicide as from homicide. More Americans kill themselves than die from breast cancer.

As Dr.Thomas Insel, longtime head of the National Institute of Mental Health, prepared to step down from his job in October, he cited the lack of progress in reducing the number of suicides as his biggest disappointment. While the homicide rate in the U.S. has dropped 50 percent since the early 1990s, the suicide rate is higher than it was a decade ago.

Daniel's Suicide: How One Ellensburg Family Copes

Oct 21, 2015
Courtesy of the DeHollander family

In a park in Ellensburg, a tree grows beside a small stream. Daniel Curtis DeHollander’s ashes lie beneath the roots.

DeHollander committed suicide here last July at age 18, just after graduating from high school. The tree is his memorial site.

A controversial bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide in California is headed to the governor for consideration, after almost nine months of intense — often personal — debate in the legislature.

If Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill, California would become the fifth state to allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients who request it, after Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana.

Women in the Army and enlisted soldiers were more likely to attempt suicide, a study found.
Flickr photo/The U.S. Army (CC BY 2.0)

Women in the Army during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were more likely to attempt suicide than male soldiers, a new study has found. 

File photo of a gun show.
Flickr Photo/M Glasgow (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Jeannie Yandel talks with the founder and CEO of the QPR Institute, Paul Quinnett, about the role of guns in rising suicide rates in rural areas. 

File photo of Joint Base Lewis-McChord headquarters.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

The suicide rate among recent veterans is about 50 percent higher than non-veterans with similar demographics. But a study published Wednesday found that deploying to a war zone didn't necessarily increase a service members’ suicide risk.

The crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 into the French Alps earlier this week appears to have been a deliberate act carried out by a co-pilot.

It is too soon to put the label "suicide" on the co-pilot's actions. Not enough is known yet about his state of mind or what his motivation might have been. But as investigations continue, the incident raises questions about whether better mental health screening can prevent a person with suicidal tendencies from taking charge in the cockpit in the first place.

For Whitney Bischoff, high school was tough. On the first day of her freshman year, a childhood friend committed suicide. Things weren't any better at home — her father died when she was 7 and her mom was an alcoholic with an abusive boyfriend.

She had a hard time making friends.

And when all the stress threatened to overwhelm her, she, too, considered suicide.

"I thought family was everything," Bischoff says. "I thought, if I didn't have family support – what am I going to do? Suicide seemed like the only way out."

President Signs Military Suicide Prevention Bill

Feb 13, 2015

When Clay Hunt left the Marine Corps, he struggled with post-traumatic stress and he also tried to help other veterans who were in the same boat. He also battled the red tape many of them were trying to claw their way through to get mental health care. And it became too much. He locked himself in his apartment and killed himself in 2011. He was 28.

Since then, his parents, Richard and Susan Selke, have been outspoken advocates for suicide prevention and today they will be at the White House when President Obama signs the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act.

The father of a Spokane woman shot to death by her husband in a murder-suicide is pushing for expanded mental health laws in Washington.

Military Children Serve Too

Jan 15, 2015

Note: Parts of this story may be disturbing for some listeners.

There are some 2 million children of U.S. service men and women. Over the past decade, thousands of these young people have had a parent die in combat overseas, and others have lost a loved one to suicide.

Since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, approximately 3,000 service members have killed themselves. That doesn’t include veterans or National Guard and reserve troops not on active duty.

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