Suicide

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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 U.S. Department of Defense study examined data from nearly 4 million service members who served between 2001 and 2007. It found that of the 5,041 suicides by 2009, the service members who deployed were no more likely to kill themselves than those who had not deployed.

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Two Washington prison inmates have committed suicide in recent weeks at the state’s main intake facility in Shelton. The first was in October. The most recent was just before Thanksgiving. The Department of Corrections hopes to learn from these deaths.

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Portland and Spokane have been trying to prevent people from jumping off the cities' iconic bridges. In the last few weeks, police in both cities have responded to suicides or attempted suicides.

Photo by John Ryan / Northwest News Network

Western State Hospital, near Tacoma, is the largest psychiatric institution in the Pacific Northwest. Its mission statement says the hospital--

Actor: "provides a healing environment free from danger, fear, hurt, injury, coercion, or intimidation for people with psychiatric disabilities. … Through vigilant attention and effort, WSH ensures a safe haven."

One week in April, Western failed to live up to those words, and the consequences were dire. Attention was less than vigilant, and two patients wound up dead. In part one of our public radio investigation, KUOW's John Ryan reported on the case of one of those patients. She committed suicide. In part two of our investigation, John looks at the safety improvements Western has, and hasn't, made since April.

Photo by Suzanne Kuhns

In the past decade, a dozen Western State Hospital patients have killed themselves. More than a hundred others have tried. Megan Templeton was the most recent. In April, she hanged herself in her hospital room. She had turned 20 the day before. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers and young adults in Washington.

Photo Source: Northwest News Network

The Pierce County Sheriff’s department is investigating a murder-suicide connected to a high-profile missing person’s case.