Update: Death investigation beneath the West Seattle Bridge

We’ve received several tips/inquiries about this: We just called Seattle Fire Department to find out about what started as a medic response to 11th SW/SW Spokane (map). Spokesperson Dana Vander Houwen confirms it was a fatal fall from the West Seattle Bridge. She says the person pronounced dead at the scene was female. It would be up to an investigation to determine whether this is confirmed as suicide; while we had three reports of bridge deaths in 2007, we had none (this is from our archives, not a check of official records) in 2008; one person died beneath the Admiral Way bridge over Fairmount Ravine in March of last year. As we’ve said before, suicide is an epidemic that needs to be addressed, not ignored as is the policy of some media, so we report about it here as well as homicide cases (which are outnumbered in King County by suicides). For those who have thought about it — the local Crisis Clinic is there to help: 206/461-3222. There’s a national hotline at 800/SUICIDE.

7:06 PM
: Wanted to repost a haunting comment just left by Lisa:

It must have been about 12 and I was heading home to West Seattle when I saw the woman as she leaned over the bridge edge, but I was two lanes away and called 911. By the time I reached Harbor Ave. the dispatcher was calling fire and police, when I got to the water taxi I heard them say there was a injured woman on Spokane and 11th and I knew we were too late. I saw her face, shining black hair in the sun, pink shirt……I am so sorry for those who loved her.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: The Medical Examiner’s Office confirms this was a case of suicide. The victim was a 52-year-old woman.

20 Replies to "Update: Death investigation beneath the West Seattle Bridge"

  • Steph April 9, 2009 (3:32 pm)

    Thank you for reporting on a possible suicide. I agree that it does not help to sweep suicide reports under the carpet like it’s a bad thing or that it might lead some one to do it. I participated in the Out of darkness walk to prevent suicide last year in memory of my father who I lost to suicide in 2003.
    Again, thank you for going the extra mile WSB.

  • Mary April 9, 2009 (3:56 pm)

    Thank you for candidly talking about this issue! That’s why I love this blog. It’s real news the way it’s suppose to be.
    People were living on the edge before the recession and many are now certainly teetering. We all need to help our neighbors in need. Sometimes it’s as simple as a smile or a hello!

  • Lindsey April 9, 2009 (5:02 pm)

    Wow, that’s an interesting fact about suicides outnumbering murders. Thanks for reporting this, WSB.

  • WSB April 9, 2009 (5:25 pm)

    Looking for stats, I found this page:

    Between 2000 and 2004, 967 King County residents died from suicide.

    341 died from homicide. Barely more than one-third the homicide rate.

    As I once heard it clearly, brilliantly explained, suicide is a deadly symptom of a treatable problem … mental illness. If we talk about it more, perhaps we’ll find more ways to help people before it’s too late – TR

  • Babs April 9, 2009 (5:29 pm)

    Agree with the other post that WSB covers it all and I’m so glad they do. Also agree with Mary about passing on a smile or a hello when out in the world. You never know who you pass on a sidewalk or grocery store isle – might just really need a kind and quick human encounter…and smiles are free to give in a good or bad econ climate.

  • FullTilt April 9, 2009 (5:30 pm)

    FYI that teen death that I asked you to look into not too long ago-that apparently was a suicide. I heard he jumped from the West Seattle bridge but it looks like there is no record of it. Very very sad. Hey folks, when you hear your kids and their friends saying things are “gay” when they mean dumb, remember that the highest rate of teen suicide is amongst gay youth. Words hurt.

  • charlabob April 9, 2009 (6:28 pm)

    It’s so important to be open about the “underside” of the world — I’m glad that WSB isn’t part of the avoidance culture. Who knows how many lives you change (or save) by printing the hotline numbers. Thank you!

  • lisa April 9, 2009 (6:59 pm)

    It must have been about 12 and I was heading home to West Seattle when I saw the woman as she leaned over the bridge edge, but I was two lanes away and called 911. By the time I reached Harbor Ave. the dispatcher was calling fire and police, when I got to the water taxi I heard them say there was a injured woman on Spokane and 11th and I knew we were too late. I saw her face, shining black hair in the sun, pink shirt……I am so sorry for those who loved her.

  • KateMcA April 9, 2009 (7:50 pm)

    Thank you Lisa for trying to save her– you are obviously a good person looking out for strangers like that. What a sad thing. I’m so glad that WSB is talking about it– hopefully those numbers you posted will save lives.

  • Jane April 9, 2009 (9:42 pm)

    Thank you Lisa. God Bless You for taking action.

    Sadly, when a person has reached the decision to take their own life, it is usually because they think there are no other options. They are blinded by their emotional pain.

    May her spirit be at peace.

  • zero-to-life in West Seattle April 10, 2009 (4:45 pm)

    My brother commited suicide from the same bridge 18 mos ago. Ironically, it was during my immediate grief, looking for any “answers” to the why of why he did it that is how I found the West Seattle Blog. Many of the comments left by others about his public death were a comfort to me. I am so sorry for this woman’s family. I am so grateful that there are people in the community who deeply care, and show it. I pray that all of the people touched by this, whether they saw her, are family members and friends or just think of her while driving over the bridge find peace.

  • J April 10, 2009 (5:01 pm)

    Is it true that Seattle has a higher suicide rate than other areas of the country? We should be talking about it more, especially if it happens here more. Thank you, for bringing this up.

    If you are reading this and the thought of suicide has even passed through your mind, get help now. There are so many people (and us here) who want to help you!

  • sparrowhawk April 11, 2009 (8:35 pm)

    She was a friend of mine.
    She had 3 children and a husband.
    She was a highly creative artist.
    She was Japanese.
    She was a mushroom hunter.
    She is greatly missed.

    Singing a soft tune, she sets her basket down…
    mushroom people hide.

    PS Thank you Lisa for being a witness.

  • WSB April 12, 2009 (12:13 am)

    Sparrowhawk, thank you.
    I understand your friend also worked years as a peace advocate. Our policy in these cases has been to not publish the victim’s ID. But it seems from what I read that your friend will be missed by many beyond those close to her. If — when the pain is not so fresh — anyone wants to tell your friend’s story more publicly, we are here to listen. Take care .. TR (WSB editor/co-publisher)

  • Lynne April 12, 2009 (4:15 pm)

    Sparrowhawk – lovely tribute. She was an advocate for peace and would receive cards and letters from people of all ages from around the world. As with any illness – mental illness can be fatal no matter how much the person is loved, watched over, and encouraged to receive medical treatment. This has been a difficult difficult time for her husband and children as they have tried to help her overcome her personal struggles. Please keep each of them in your prayers and help them in any way you can.

  • lisa April 12, 2009 (8:30 pm)

    Thank you sparrowhawk.
    When I saw your friend on the bridge I was in the midst of a deep relentless sadness on the one year anniversary of my mother’s death. Nothing was going right and I was heading home for a short break from work. And then,when a voice in the phone in my hand said that your friend had fallen,even driving, I doubled over from the sound of the words, it was as though a knife had cut through my reasons to hold on to that stone of sad anger in my gut and I felt it dissolve.
    I cried for her and my mother and for all of us Left Behind to do the job of Loving without them.

  • sparrowhawk April 12, 2009 (9:23 pm)

    Peace advocate, yes.
    It would be fitting perhaps, for those who are feeling great loss and hurt to honor her with the folding of paper cranes.
    Be it one, or one thousand, it is possible that it may help with the healing in ourselves and in the world around us.
    I believe she would have liked that.

  • Jane April 14, 2009 (12:04 pm)

    Sparrowhawk & Lynne – Thank you for sharing such kind words & allowing people to know that this woman had many wonderful qualities & accomplishments. That she was a wife & mother & touched so many lives with her peace work.
    I’m so sad that her anguish & illness led to such devastation. I just wish she had been able to find her way to treatment.
    Her kids & husband appreciate the support of everyone. They will have a long journey of sadness as they cope with this loss.
    And Lisa, I’m so sorry for your loss last year & your pain of this experience.

  • 'ohana April 14, 2009 (6:12 pm)

    Thank you for the comfort of your words.

    The joy she brought our lives is immeasurable. It is the remembrance of her wisdom and passion that will bring us through these sad days.

    We will carry on her mission of peace…her dedication to music…her devotion to her family. As we make 1000 paper cranes in her honor…each fold of the paper is a memory of her, a prayer for her family, a promise that her legacy continues…

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