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suicide

The death of Raheel Siddiqui on March 18, 2016, focused a spotlight on alleged hazing in the U.S. Marine Corps. Siddiqui, who was a 20 year-old recruit, had been at boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, for just 11 days before he leapt three stories to his death, according to reported accounts from other recruits.

Emiliano with his girlfriend Trista
COURTESY OF EMILIANO ALÁRCON

It was a warm summer evening. I could feel the sun on my back. I was sitting at the edge of a highway bridge.

The sounds of cars rolled both behind and under me as I looked down at what looked like my own final resting place. 


Suicide rates in the U.S. are at their highest in 30 years. In 2014, the last year for which there are official government figures, nearly 43,000 Americans killed themselves. That’s nearly four times as many as were shot to death by others.

The rise in suicide comes despite intensive prevention efforts by mental health professionals, citizen-volunteers, people affected by suicide, teachers, religious leaders and others.

Could the key to prevention be identifying people about to make an attempt?

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was found hanged in his prison cell early Wednesday.

"Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window," Christopher M. Fallon of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections said in a statement obtained by NPR member station WBUR. "Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items."

The man accused of fatally shooting five people at the Cascade Mall in Burlington last year has been found dead.

Arcan Cetin was found hanging in his cell just before 7 p.m. Sunday.  

Rosemary Kaholokula, chief criminal deputy prosecutor for Skagit County, said she believes Cetin committed suicide.

On Nov. 18, 1978, an itinerant preacher, faith healer and civil rights activist named the Rev. Jim Jones led more than 900 of his followers to kill themselves by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid at their Jonestown settlement in the jungle of Guyana. Nearly 40 years later, questions still linger regarding the Jonestown massacre and the man who inspired it.

Journalist Jeff Guinn details how Jones captivated his followers in his new book, The Road to Jonestown. He calls Jones a "tremendous performer" who exhibited "the classic tendencies of the demagogue."

In 2014 and 2015, Washington's prison system experienced a spike in inmate suicides. During those two years 11 inmate deaths were ruled suicides, giving Washington one of the highest prison suicide rates in the country.

Richard Billings, Jr., 38

Child molestation

Sentence: 144 months

In 2014 and 2015, Washington's prison system experienced a spike in inmate suicides. During those two years 11 inmate deaths were ruled suicides, giving Washington one of the highest prison suicide rates in the country. Austin Jenkins has spent the past year investigating how this happened and how the prison system responded.

Brothers Galen and Arthur Emery at KUOW.
KUOW Photo/Matt Martin

What should you do if a loved one is contemplating killing themselves? It’s a scary thought — and one most people aren’t prepared to answer.

A display in Olympia honors deaths by suicide in Washington. The red markers are suicides by gun.
Courtesy of Jo Arlow Photography

Bill Radke speaks with Jennifer Stuber, an associate professor at the University of Washington and co-founder of Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention. February 16 is Suicide Prevention Education Day and Stuber has worked with the Washington legislature to try and craft bills to help prevent suicide, especially those committed with guns. She discusses an unlikely alliance with the NRA and how she wants to erase the stigmas around suicide. 

There's a perception that children don't kill themselves, but that's just not true. A new report shows that, for the first time, suicide rates for U.S. middle school students have surpassed the rate of death by car crashes.

The suicide rate among youngsters ages 10 to 14 has been steadily rising, and doubled in the U.S. from 2007 to 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2014, 425 young people 10 to 14 years of age died by suicide.

Kathy Plonka - kathypl@spokesman.com / Tacoma News Tribune

Bill Radke speaks with Tacoma News Tribune columnist Matt Driscoll about the sad story of Tacoma kindergarten teacher Klara Bowman, who became infamous as 'Drunk Teacher.' 

A Winchester Safes representative sets the lock on one of several gun safes on display at the 35th annual SHOT Show, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in Las Vegas.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Kim Malcolm talks with Dr. Joseph Simonetti about the public health implications of safe firearm storage. His research finds that adolescents with risk factors for suicide are often easily able to access guns in their homes. Simonetti is Instructor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver.

An analysis of veterans suicides by the Department of Veterans Affairs sheds new light on high-risk groups of veterans.

The report, billed as the most comprehensive analysis to date, examined completed suicides between 2001 and 2014.


John O'Brien

In this talk and reading, poet Matthew Dickman speaks eloquently about the often taboo subject of suicide. He says he can’t offer an answer to the question, why do people commit suicide?

Instead, he shares what he has learned from the suicides of his brother Darin and close friends, what he has learned from research and what other poets have written.


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

Audio Pending...

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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