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A closer look at suicide in Kirkland | Editorial
You may have noticed that suicide in Kirkland is an issue.
It’s nothing new. But it is something we have started to keep track of in the Reporter’s weekly police blotter.
Every week, our staff goes to the Kirkland Police Department, looks at the police call log and tallies many genres of crimes and violations, including traffic, noise complaints, disturbances, thefts, car prowls, burglaries, domestic violence, assaults, fraud and more.
Last October, we decided to also include the calls for suicide that the department receives to raise awareness about the issue.
In November and December of 2012, Kirkland police received a total of 13 suicide-related calls each month, or an average of three calls per week.
But in January, suicide-related calls spiked. And people noticed right away.
The second week of January, we reported that in one week, Kirkland police received 12 calls for suicide. That month, there was a total of 17 calls.
One alarmed resident sent us a Tweet, asking if the tally in our police blotter was really correct. She checked with the Kirkland Police Department. It was.
But this month’s tallies, which showed an average of four suicide-related calls per week to Kirkland police, prompted another resident to email the editor.
“I have been reading with somewhat horror and disbelief the suicide numbers that you list in the police blotter,” the man wrote. “If my memory and math is right, you have listed a suicide rate of almost three a week. That’s more than 150 deaths a year, and yet there is no mention anywhere else in this paper.”
He said he would like to hear more about what “seems like a real problem” going on here.
In response, we contacted the Kirkland Police Department to find out if these calls resulted in actual deaths or if they were suicide attempts.
A Records Department employee said the police call log includes both. However, she said most of the calls each week are only suicide attempts or threats to commit suicide. There are very few calls of suicide to Kirkland police that result in death, she said.
Whether people are having suicidal thoughts or attempting suicide, it is a real problem however you look at it.
Each year suicide claims approximately 30,000 lives in America, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
More than 90 percent of people who commit suicide have been diagnosed with mental illness.
We urge people having suicidal thoughts or behaviors to get help, whether it’s through a support group or calling 911.
There are local services available, including NAMI Eastside - the East King County chapter of NAMI. The organization offers support, education and advocacy for people affected by acute and chronic mental illness.
Members include families, friends and people with mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, ADHD, anxiety disorders and others.
For more information, including free monthly forums on various topics, visit www.nami-eastside.org or call (425)-885-NAMI.