News for Seattle's Ballard neighborhood and beyond

My Ballard header image 2

Apparent suicide near Whittier Elementary

Posted by Geeky Swedes on September 25th, 2009

Police responded at 5:30 a.m. to the east side of Whittier Elementary School, on 13th and 75th, to investigate an apparent suicide. “There appeared to be a body on the ground and the police were setting things up for an investigation,” said My Ballard reader Wes, who was walking his dog at 6:15 a.m. Police had the area taped off for much of the morning.

Police tell us they’re conducting an investigation and it “appears to be a suicide.” My Ballard typically does not report on suicides, but given the public nature of this death, we decided to post a short story. (Thanks everyone for your tips.)

Tags: Ballard   Share

48 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 ogonb // Sep 25, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I live across the school yard from where this occurred. Thanks to the police, medical examiner, and any other agencies involved for getting this cleared up before the kids started arriving at school.

  • 2 ZephyrV2 // Sep 25, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I don't want to sound callous. But why commit suicide in this way? It's been said that suicide is a selfish act. Doing it in a place where you are likely to be seen/found by children is very selfish.

    Condolences to those who knew and cared for this person.

  • 3 Name // Sep 25, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    If you don't normally report suicides, please consider pulling this down, so our children can hear about it from us, instead of from older kids at the school. It's already in the forum, and parents at the school are all aware, or soon will be.

  • 4 Jesseham // Sep 25, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Agreed. This needs to be pulled, at least for the rest of the day.

    As I posted in the forum, this needs to be handled by parents, not by kids on the playground.

  • 5 RudyT // Sep 25, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Are kids these days checking the internet all throughout the school day?

  • 6 Jesseham // Sep 25, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Know any 5-6th graders who aren't? There's a library full of computers there, not to mention computers in most (all?) of the classrooms.

    It just sucks. I posted the initial question on the forum and I guess that let the cat out of the bag. One older kid finds out, then all the older kids know, then all the kindergartners have to figure out what suicide means.

    I would just rather be able to do that myself, and I'm sure any other parents on here would agree.

  • 7 RudyT // Sep 25, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    I don't know any 5-6th graders at all. I was just curious if kids these days are just on computers all day or not. Seems as if they are. And yes, the situation just sucks all around.

  • 8 motorrad // Sep 25, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    I would be more worried about this affecting the older kids. They are developed enough to understand the concept of suicide and unfortunately there are some kids that age that contemplate the issue. The younger ones probably don't understand it in a personal way. Have a talk with your older kids. Please don't just let them ruminate about it on their own.

  • 9 Sharon // Sep 25, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    When I brought my son to school this morning I had to go into the classroom as we were a bit late and he had cupcakes to celebrate his un-birthday.

    The teacher was talking to the kids about what gossip was and how you shouldn't spread rumors when you don't have all the facts. I didn't think anything of it as we had walked in mid-conversation, but I'm pretty sure now that she was talking about this. Which means that at least one 3rd grader was talking about it about 5 minutes after the start of school. It would explain the weird vibe I got when I went in. How tragic.

    Usually I have a modicum of sympathy for people who are so miserable as to commit suicide, but this man has made me so mad. The people who loved him are probably already distraught, and then to know he decided to off himself where kids would find him? So, so sad. His friends and family are in my prayers.

  • 10 Freddie // Sep 25, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    This is a news sight. This is news. Thank you Swedes.

  • 11 ogonb // Sep 25, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I, for one, am glad you're reporting on this. While it is a good practice to not generally report on suicides, it is important for a neighborhood news site to report on bodies being found in public places. This morning I could tell that they were investigating a homicide, but could not find any info as to what was going on. I was relieved to find out that, tragic though this was, that it was not a murder, overdose, or some other such thing that would have ramifications for the whole neighborhood.

  • 12 randi // Sep 25, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    people are so selfish!

  • 13 PastExperience // Sep 25, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    I understand why people might think this is selfish, but someone who's in so much pain that they have to take their life is not able to think rationally. Which you need to do to consider others' feelings. So it is too bad, but it's rather useless to scold somebody after they're dead about being out of their minds with pain in the first place. If you've ever been there, you know what I mean.

  • 14 stopthebuzz // Sep 25, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    doubtful that 5-6th graders are reading

  • 15 Loren Hendrickson // Sep 25, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I appreciate this forum to share such information. Kids come home full of rumors. Of course they will have heard about it, internet or no. Not posting doesn't change how quickly news like this spreads.

  • 16 Jesseham // Sep 25, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    They don't need to be specifically:

  • 17 thegeneral // Sep 25, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Agreed. My wife passed the scene while walking our 1 year old this morning and we were very concerned that it may have been a homicide. There is plenty of much more disturbing content to worry about your kids finding on the internet. This story is factual, non sensational, and is a concept kids will be exposed to – internet or not. If you're worried about them, talk to them about it and give them your perspective when they get home.

    Thanks MB for reporting it.

  • 18 stopthebuzz // Sep 25, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Well then, somebody is going to have to have a talk about principals exposing themselves as well.

    From what I understand, teachers are taking time to talk to kids. If you feel so strongly about being the first one to talk to them, go pick them up and shelter them in your home until you break the news of every terrible thing that they might stumble upon via Google.

    I agree with the poster below. It's better for the neighborhood to know it was a suicide than to spend the day wondering if there's a danger running around the neighborhood.

  • 19 Jesseham // Sep 25, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    My perspective is based on the aftermath of the last newsworthy event over there, the naked guy in the pickup truck that they kicked out over there (not even the principal – must be something in the water) and how when my child came home from school that day, she was full of stories of how kids had been kidnapped by the guy in the pickup truck (obviously false)

    It's good that the teachers are talking about it this time around.

  • 20 UnBiasedMan // Sep 25, 2009 at 10:18 pm


    Geez people. He took his own life. Don't you think this person was desperate and perhaps feeling a little down? C'mon. Maybe along with a suicide prevention line, Seattle should provide a quiet secluded place for people to go to take their life and not do it in any spot that inconveniences the rest of us.

    Hopefully, he had his pet on a leash and didn't die in a bike lane!

    Where is the compassion?????

  • 21 sdrake1958 // Sep 25, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Aren't parents supposed to be able to explain this and other events to these young, impressionable kids? I can't believe some want this story pulled. What else don't some want the rest of us to see/hear about? Why yes, I do know what a nattering neighbob is. Do these kids ever see the Stranger or watch History or the Science channels? Just tell these poor kids how much they're in debt already. That'll scare 'em.

  • 22 randi // Sep 25, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    HAha, my bad…..I forgot the elementary school is the most appropriate place. Sorry I guess I should be more understanding.

  • 23 Jason // Sep 25, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Uh, no, don't to censor the blog by removing this post. Do folks seriously think kids are reading this blog while at school?! Man, people … (shaking head)

  • 24 Jason // Sep 25, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Jesse, you've got a whole Internet to start censoring. Get over it. Kids will hear things before you ever get to explain it first. And, yes, I'm a parent.

  • 25 Jason // Sep 25, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Agreed. Thanks, MB!

  • 26 kim // Sep 25, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    interesting, i commented earlier and was censored. apparently a comment offended a blogger. let me sugar coat. (again) i agree that i don't think too may kids are reading this blog. and the kids that are reading are probably pretty much aware of the world around them. let's see if this comment endures…..

  • 27 eric // Sep 25, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    i have to agree somewhat…while its clearly an unfortunate place for this to happen, it still brings out sympathy from me more than anger.

    i know i know “thekids” etc etc.- of course its challenging material to explain, but it would happen at some point. maybe try to give a bit of compassion in the explaination.

  • 28 UnBiasedMan // Sep 25, 2009 at 11:33 pm


    I cannot think of an appropriate place to kill yourself……..perhaps you can help us out and give us a list. No doubt it was a cruddy event and I am glad the kids didn't see it, but c'mon! I am no expert, but I doubt the person who killed themself was thinking with a lot of clarity at the time.

  • 29 stopthebuzz // Sep 25, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Based on what you just said, isn't it better that there is an actual news story with facts so that your child won't come home “full of stories”

  • 30 hebec // Sep 26, 2009 at 1:37 am

    My daughter hasn't said anything about it. She had been at Whittier all day. This is the first I've heard about it.

  • 31 Silver // Sep 26, 2009 at 3:35 am

    According to something I read in the comments, the man who committed suicide lived very near the school. It could very well have been the closest place he could think of where he wouldn't be uninterrupted.

  • 32 Ballardmom // Sep 26, 2009 at 3:42 am

    This is really really upsetting news. But I'm glad that it was posted on this site. I think it was very appropriate to be posted here and I'm glad I could find out the facts of what happened. I'm more concerned about my kid seeing a dead body outside her school than I am about news stories. I think accurate information is a rarity on the internet and I'm happy when I can find it – so far the Geeky Swedes have come through with non-biased, factual information in my opinion.

  • 33 TheNewsChick // Sep 26, 2009 at 3:48 am

    To Ballardmom – check your child's take home folder. The school sent a letter home to parents, although did NOT mention it was a suicide.

  • 34 A Dad // Sep 26, 2009 at 3:56 am

    My wife and I woke up this morning to the scene right out our front window. I have been debating these comments here in my head all day… seeing something like this first hand really gets your mind churning.

    At one point in the day I was furious that someone decided to end his life right out in front of my house. My daughter is 3 years old and if she had woken up before us the sight of a man hanging from a tree quite possibly could have been her very first lasting memory. So at that point compassion for this lost soul went right out the window.

    Once I settled down a bit I transfered my thoughts to what I would have told her if she would have seen this, which was spurred on by some of the comments here. What if she was a little older and heard rumors at school about this, what would I tell her then. I ran through these scenarios in my head the rest of the day.

    When I got home I stopped to talk to a passing neighbor before heading inside. We were approached by 4 kids around 7 years old. One boy asked me “my friends said someone was murdered out here, is that true?” I told him I didn't know anything and that he should ask his parents.

    Kids are just as curious as we are and they are going to find stuff out wether we want them to or not. Hiding a story like this from a great community news source like this isn't going to prevent anything. I applaud this site for getting the truth out about a sensitive subject in a very desecrate manner.

    Don't assume your kids haven't been exposed to this, talk to them.

  • 35 A Dad // Sep 26, 2009 at 3:59 am

    *spelling lose* …discrete manner.

  • 36 Ballardmom // Sep 26, 2009 at 4:19 am

    Good to know. It's been a lazy end of week Friday and I haven't opened the homework folder yet. The school may not have known yet it was a suicide when they wrote the note. Although I would think that would be less disturbing to us parents than a homicide. Guess I'd better go check the homework folder!

  • 37 leatherette // Sep 26, 2009 at 4:21 am

    Actually, I think the correct spelling for the meaning that is implied is “discreet”.

    My dad committed suicide in a park (not one with a children's playground), and I have no idea why. At the time I thought it was so that he could avoid causing a mess in the house (for my mom's sake). He used a gun. I have always felt bad for the person/people who found him, but never met them.

    Maybe it is something about needing to feel a disconnect in the place where you suicide? Or to be sure you can't be stopped? I don't know. Inwardly focused? Definitely, but not the classic definition of “selfish”, IMO.

  • 38 Ballardmom // Sep 26, 2009 at 4:27 am

    How awful to have seen that! :(
    I was really angry at first too when I heard about it – why kill yourself for everyone to see? Maybe he wouldn't have been so depressed if he wasn't so wrapped up in himself and had some compassion for others instead of wallowing in his own pain so much he didn't care who he hurt by publicly killing himself. But my friend brought up a good point – that he wasn't in his right mind. And if he didn't have a job and insurance how could he get the medication and counseling he needs? Not to mention if he was psychotic no one has a right to put him on medication unless he comes out of his psychosis long enough to ask for medication. So, it's a tragic complex issue all around. I'm really really glad your 3 year old daughter didn't see that.

    When my daughter was 3 years old a good friend of mine killed himself and she knew something was up when I was so sad the day of the funeral. We didn't tell her it was a suicide but we had to tell her someone had died. Unfortunately, tragic things happen in the world and it's impossible to shelter our kids from all of it, so yeah, talking to them is the best defense against all the ugliness that can happen. Since trying to make it go away or hide it isn't possible unfortunately. Plus, it will help our kids learn to cope if we talk to them about this stuff when we can't protect them from hearing about it or god forbid actually seeing it.

  • 39 A sad mama // Sep 26, 2009 at 5:11 am

    Flowers were placed by the tree to show that someone cares. I hope they were taken by his loved ones and not by an angry neighbor.

    This is just a tragedy. Life is terribly difficult. Loving others is one way that people can feel hope in this world. So, can we be more loving to the family and friends of this man and stop judging him? God bless those who loved and cared for him. Our family is so terribly sorry for your loss.

  • 40 Name // Sep 26, 2009 at 5:15 am

    If they were on school property, they were probably moved by the school.

  • 41 motorrad // Sep 26, 2009 at 8:17 am

    I am disheartened and saddened by the fact that not one person here has mentioned the 'neighbor' that obviously was struggling in their life. People that lived very close, close enough that it happened right out their front window did not mention anything about the deceased. I find it incredible, and not in a good way. Did anyone even ever say hello to the man? What was he like? I can only hope it is a case of 'if you can't say something nice…' My first boss taught me a life lesson I have never forgotten. You never know the baggage that someone is carrying.

  • 42 eric // Sep 26, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    “maybe he wouldn't have been so depressed if he was wrapped up in himself and had some compassion for others…” god what a quote. what a quote….

  • 43 Black_Sheep // Sep 26, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Leatherette, I'm sorry about your father.

    Interesting thought about feeling a disconnection in the place where they suicide…my friend committed suicide when he and his partner were out of town. I thought it may have been so his partner didn't have to live in the place where he died, but maybe he also didn't want to do it in a place HE had a connection to?

    My condolences to his friends and family.

  • 44 Black_Sheep // Sep 26, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Agreed, Eric – my friend that committed suicide was all about caring for other people, and I think part of why he did it was because he felt like a burden to others. I wouldn't miss him nearly as much if he had been wrapped up in himself and compassionless.

  • 45 mamaC // Sep 27, 2009 at 2:25 am

    Condolences to the man's family. There is no right place to kill oneself. People in major psychotic depression are not generally committing suicide to be selfish but to unburden their loved ones (in their perception). I am saddened that help was not available.

    Geeky Swedes please keep up the good reporting. Your service is invaluable!

  • 46 chmomballard // Sep 28, 2009 at 1:25 am

    I was unfortunate enough to see this man's body on Friday morning. I've been thinking about it a lot this weekend, obviously it is an image that will stick with me for a long time to come. I feel so awful for his family, and that was actually my first thought when I drove past (I assumed then it was a heart attack, visions of him walking his dog…). I too am saddened that help wasn't available to him, and I'm very glad that my little girl in the back didn't see him.

  • 47 A Dad // Sep 28, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    My first priority as a father is my child and my wife – which is why I have little compassion for anyone who decides to off them self right outside my house. I didn't remove the flowers from the tree… but if I would have seen them there when I got home I would have. Not out of disrespect for the person or the family… but out of respect for the hundreds of children and neighbors who don't need a reminder of this selfish act that took place where they live.

    So please think before you come on here and berate neighbors for not caring

  • 48 A Dad // Sep 28, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    grrr… the first half of my post got chopped.

    My nephew committed suicide about 7 years ago in the same manner as this man. So seeing this man out my front window brought back a lot of emotions from that event in my life. I sat starring at the scene thinking about your exact comments @mortorrad – who was this man and how could I have helped him. I had never seen the man before so the answer was nothing.

    My nephew and I were more like brothers due to our close proximity in age and distance from each other. I did all I could to be a good example to him as an uncle. There is still nothing I could have done different to make him change his mind.

Leave a Comment (read our comment rules)

News from the Seattle Times

Skip to toolbar