Woman Dies in Apparent Suicide at Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery, shown May 17, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley)
Arlington National Cemetery, shown May 17, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley)

A woman died by apparent suicide Monday at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, just yards from Joint Base Henderson Hall-Fort Myer.

The death took place near the Confederate Memorial in the western portion of the cemetery, according to a report by local news outlet ARLnow.

Emergency responders from the base and Arlington County were called to the scene, according to reports.

"We are deeply saddened to learn about the apparent suicide in the cemetery earlier today," Arlington National Cemetery spokesman Timothy Lawson said Monday. "Our thoughts are with the family at this time."

Lawson could not provide information on the deceased and did not say whether the person was affiliated with the military or the cemetery. The location in which she died is easily accessible through Fort Myer, the home of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard -- the regiment that stands vigil at Arlington's Tomb of the Unknowns and serves as the U.S. Army's main ceremonial unit.

Visitors also can access the cemetery through the Visitors Center and, with proper identification, through a gate accessible within Fort Myer.

The suicide rate among Americans rose by 33 percent from 1999 to 2017 -- making suicide a "serious public health problem" that is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the last week, three veterans took their own lives on VA properties. On average, 20 veterans a day die by suicide in the United States.

In March, President Donald Trump signed an executive order creating a Cabinet-level task force to address the issue of suicide among veterans and service members. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Pentagon also hold a conference every two years on suicide prevention. The next conference is scheduled for August. The location of the event has not been announced.

Lawson said cemetery officials are "supporting the family during their time of need."

"We thank our first responders for their quick reaction to the incident," he said.

Are you or a loved one in crisis? Call (800) 273-8255; press 1 if you are a veteran or service member. Help also can be reached by text messaging 838255.

Editor's note: This story has been amended regarding the suicide prevention conference's location. The 2017 conference took place in Denver.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @patriciakime.

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