WHEEL / Women in Black has reported an all-time high number of deaths in its yearly count — the local organization said 139 people died outside, in a public place or by violence — in King County through mid-December. Last year, the organization reported 112 people died under those circumstances.
At Monday night’s solstice vigil in Seattle, local faith leaders read the names of the dead aloud.
In previous years, King County has reported higher numbers of deaths on the streets using its own counting methods. King County’s counts, which include other homeless deaths, hit a high of nearly 200 in 2018 but dropped to 163 in 2019; complete numbers for 2020 haven’t been compiled.
WHEEL / Women in Black’s list of deaths includes anyone who died outside or in a violent way, including by suicide. The organization compiled its list using King County Medical Examiner’s reports, newspapers and word of mouth from families and friends.
WHEEL / Women in Black began the annual vigil more than 20 years ago and has honored more than 1,200 people since 2000. The organization says this year has been particularly hard on those who are homeless, with changes in the shelter system due to the coronavirus pandemic and a reduction in capacity at low-barrier shelters.