Record year of suicides at Lewis-McChord base

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD — Joint Base Lewis-McChord saw more suicides in 2011 than any previous year.

Twelve suicides were recorded at the base this past year. That’s up from nine in 2010 and nine in 2009, The Tacoma News Tribune reported.

Army I Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield says the total could grow as the Army completes investigations ahead of its annual suicide report next month.

“We take suicide very seriously,” Dangerfield said. “We’re going to continue to push the envelope to make sure soldiers get the resiliency training they need.”

The toll at Lewis-McChord rose despite new efforts to counsel soldiers when they come home from war, including the creation of a suicide-prevention office.

Leaders at the base established plans to help soldiers readjust to stateside life as major homecomings took place in the summer of 2010.

In early 2011, Madigan Army Medical Center reported a rising number of soldiers and military family members seeking behavioral health services, a trend officers interpreted as a sign that people were becoming more open about asking for help.

Lewis-McChord’s surge in suicides followed its busiest year of combat deployments. More than 18,000 soldiers from the base served in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009-10.

The base is also larger than ever, with some 34,000 soldiers stationed there, up from 19,000 before the war in Iraq started.

The numbers here shadow an Armywide trend that has seen more soldiers taking their own lives since 2005.

The most public suicide involving a Lewis-McChord soldier this year took place in April, when medic Sgt. David Stewart killed himself and his wife on Interstate 5 south of Tumwater. Their son was later found dead in their Spanaway home.

More in Local News

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

Camano Island man gets 18 years for role in drug ring

He was convicted of helping lead a drug distribution network in four Washington counties.

Lake Stevens man missing since beginning of January

Jason Michael Knox White hasn’t used his credit card or withdrawn money from his bank since then.

Most Read