Hanford High School mourns loss of Richland teacher, National Guardsman who died

The Hanford High School community is in mourning this week after a math teacher died by suicide.

Principal Mike Johnson said in a letter to parents this week that Steve Klug, who also previously taught at Richland High, died Wednesday.

The school offered resources and counselors, which hundreds of students used. At the end of school Wednesday, students and staff gathered to share a few moments and to write cards to his family.

Johnson said it’s important for the community to grieve and come together during this time.

“There was a huge outpouring of support from across our community, with offers of assistance from other schools and districts throughout the region,” Johnson wrote to parents. “I was personally touched by the number of students that made a point to check in on me to see how I was doing throughout the day. The care and support in the building was beautiful to experience.”

“I want to ensure you that we, the Hanford High School staff, care about you and your students and the feelings you may be experiencing,” he continued.

Classes at Hanford High School were held as usual.

Klug, who was married with children, was a math teacher of 16 years and also taught at Richland High School, according to his LinkedIn.

He championed computer science and cyber security education for students by creating classes and establishing an Advanced Placement computer science curriculum.

“Steve was not only a dedicated educator who taught in the district for more than 15 years, but a friend to many in our schools and throughout the community,” said Richland School District public information officer Shawna Dinh. “We want to thank the Tri-City community for the tremendous outpouring of love and support to our staff, students and the Klug family.”

Klug was also a military veteran who was actively serving in the Washington Army National Guard. He took time off from college to serve in Iraq from 2004 to 2005.

Benton County Coroner Bill Leach said emergency dispatchers received a call from Klug on Wednesday morning. A short time later, deputies found his body about 9:35 a.m.

Suicide prevention lifeline

Anyone feeling distressed can call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 800-273-8255.

If someone needs assistance right away, you can also call 911.

Warning signs of distress can include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself

  • Looking for ways to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

  • Talking about being a burden to others

  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

  • Acting anxious or agitated, or behaving recklessly

  • Sleeping too little or too much

  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated

  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

  • Displaying extreme mood swings