By: Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times staff
A body found outside an Edmonds College storage building has been identified as Sawyer West, a man who had been missing since October.
West, 29, died by suicide, said the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.
A statewide search for West commenced after he left a group home in Edmonds, last seen jogging out from the driveway on October 16. He was diagnosed and living with schizophrenia.
A maintenance worker found West’s body around 10 a.m. on Thursday, November 19, by a building that stores maintenance equipment in the 7000 block of 196th Street SW. The Lynnwood Police Department responded to the scene.
“No amount of words or tears or pleading and prayers could explain the deep sorrow and pain my heart is in,” said sister Paisley West. “My family received the news that after 35 torturous days of searching, my brother’s body was found…this isn’t the outcome I wanted, this isn’t the story I wanted to tell.”
West fought a hard battle against the mental illness, his schizophrenia conceiving auditory hallucinations, hearing voices within his mind that appeared real.
“He… succumbed to the awful voices in his head,” said friend Jamae Wiederhold. “He desperately wanted to live life without those demons haunting him day in and day out, while knowing there’s no way to fully get rid of them. My heart breaks that Sawyer thought this was the only way.”
West’s sister says her only current peace is in knowing his hallucinations have been silenced but grieves the loss of her brother and the pain he endured through his illness. Continuing, she says West was more than her brother, but her greatest source of love; his illness her biggest source of sadness.
“Schizophrenia is the cruelest disease,” she said. “For years it tried to destroy my brother, yet his kind, loving, and sweet heart never faltered…he loved loudly, and suffered silently…how brilliantly he fought, and how beautifully he showed himself to the world.”
On November 22, West’s family held a vigil, with plans to host a formal celebration of life in the future. A memorial is set up on the trail around the Lynnwood Golf Course on the north side behind the Cedar building of Edmonds College. The family plans to visit the vigil daily for the time being and welcomes additions to the display.
A fitness trainer and childhood friend of West, Chloe Puff, is hosting a virtual fitness fundraiser on Saturday, November 28, to support the family in hosting a memorial service for West. For more information about the workout classes offered and schedule, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/433819791347055.