August 14, 2008 – In a sad echo of a national problem facing the military, a 21-year-old Army National Guardsman from Iowa was on the phone with his former girlfriend when he fatally shot himself in the basement of her Holmen home late Friday, officials said.
The woman told police she had ended her shift at The Company Store at 11:30 p.m. and found she’d missed a cell phone call. The voicemail was from the sister of her former boyfriend, asking if she knew where Jake Clements was, according to Holmen police reports.
The woman learned from his sister that Clements, of Boone, Iowa, had failed to report for drills and had not been seen.
The Holmen woman then went home, where she and a friend walked through the house, turning on lights and checking each room on the main floor, according to the reports.
She tried to call Clements, and he picked up but hung up before responding. When she called again, he answered and when pressed admitted he was in the basement, according to the police report.
He said he wanted to see her one last time, he was sorry and he loved her. When she asked what he was talking about, she heard a loud bang, according to the report.
The friend called 911 about 11:57 p.m. after hearing the noise and both went to a neighbor’s home to wait for police.
Police found Clements’ body in the basement, with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. A .45-caliber Springfield gun was still in his hand, loaded with five live rounds of ammunition, including one in the chamber, according to the report. A partially consumed bottle of wine also was found, but no suicide note.
Holmen police Chief Mike McHugh said his department was working with the military to investigate the incident. Clements is thought to have returned from Iraq a few months ago, he said, and speculation was he might soon be headed back.
There was no forced entry into the home and it was presumed Clements still had a key to the home, officials said.
Clements’ former girlfriend declined to speak with the media.
According to the Veteran’s Administration, the suicide hotline that was established in July 2007 has received 55,000 calls, 22,000 from veterans and the rest from concerned family members or friends.
The VA Mental Health director Ira Katz said, in an e-mail that was part of a court proceeding, that an average of 18 veterans commit suicide every day.
Suicide prevention summit planned
EAU CLAIRE – “Changing Attitudes, Saving Lives” is the theme of the first Suicide Prevention Summit to be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 22 at The Florian Gardens in Eau Claire.
The program is designed for health care and human service professionals; mental health, senior, youth and public services providers; educators; law enforcement personnel; faith communities; post-secondary students; and parents, survivors and anyone with an interest in suicide prevention.
The summit will focus on:
# Saving lives through intervention and awareness.
# Understanding the full scope of the suicide problem.
# Becoming aware of available resources.
# The QPR (questions, persuade and refer) process of three simple steps to help save a life from suicide.
Cost is $30. Those interested in attending the summit can register online at www.uwec.edu/ce/humanSer/suicide_prevention/index.htm. For more information, call 866-893-2423 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.