State Investigation Looking into Death of Goodrum
[TUCSON, AZ] - State health investigators are probing the apparent suicide of a nationally known Transgender activist at a state-licensed mental-health facility in Tucson.
According to a police report, Alexander John "Bear" Goodrum may have been dead for several hours before his body was discovered.
The death was reported to police at 6:51 a.m. Sept. 27. Goodrum apparently hanged himself from a bathroom door knob with a towel, authorities said.
Tucson Fire Department medics arrived at the facility shortly after 7:00 a.m. and determined Goodrum was dead. They indicated he may have been dead for several hours.
Goodrum, 41, a female-to-male Transgendered Bisexual, had checked himself into St Joseph's Hospital last month to be treated for depression. He was transferred about a week and a half later to the state-licensed La Frontera Center Inc. inpatient facility on East Apache Park Place, near East Ajo Way and South Kino Parkway.
La Frontera's director of inpatient services, Ellen McVay, would not comment on Goodrum's death.
Walter P. Goodrum Jr. of Las Vegas said his brother had tried to kill himself in the past, but he would not elaborate. He said Alexander Goodrum's depression was not related to his gender.
His brother, Walter Goodrum said, "was supposed to be in the safest place he could have been, and this still happened. That's the devastating part."
When paramedics arrived at the facility, two clinic staff members were performing CPR on Alexander Goodrum, who apparently was dead and had slash marks on his wrist, when he had tried to cut his wrists in the two hours between when staff members said they checked on him, according to a Tucson Police Department report.
The paramedics told Tucson police Officer Mike Wilder that Goodrum appeared to have been dead for several hours.
However, a clinic staff member told police he found Goodrum in bed sleeping at 5:00 a.m.
Pima County Medical Examiner Dr. Bruce O. Parks said his office could not determine how long Goodrum was dead because a pathologist was not called to the clinic to examine the body.
Wilder's report indicated the patient's medical chart said Goodrum was to be monitored for manic behavior. The report also said Wilder was told Goodrum had made comments about suicide. Because the report obtained was censored by police, it is unclear to whom the comments about suicide were made.
Goodrum, whose nondenominational memorial was Saturday, October 5, at Stone Avenue Temple, 564 S. Stone Ave., was a founder of TGNet Arizona, a Transgender resource and advocacy group, and was its director. He published many papers on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender issues and was a member of the city's GLBT Commission, among numerous other groups.
Goodrum's friend Kent Burbank, executive director of Wingspan said, "I guess most people are wondering how this happened."
Burbank said Goodrum struggled all his life with depression.
Michael Woodward, a TGNet advisory board member, said when Goodrum checked himself into the clinic, "We all thought he would be safe there."
Health department records show no substantiated problems at the 11-year-old facility, near East Ajo Way and South Kino Parkway, for at least five years, the only records available Monday.
Still, Goodrum's friends and family questioned how he could have committed suicide at a place he checked into for help.
Goodrum told officials he was bipolar and suicidal, and they noted workers should watch for "manic behavior," police said.
"I think it's critically important that the incident be fully investigated and we do everything we can to prevent anything similar from happening in the future," said Kevin Maxey, president of the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance and a friend of Goodrum's. "I think we all felt that he was having a very hard time, but we thought he was in a place where he'd get help."