County coroner confirms psychologist’s death a suicide

Funabiki surrendered himself after a patient said he raped her

IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

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The Whitman County coroner confirmed Thursday morning that a Pullman psychologist who surrendered himself to police and was booked on a charge of raping one of his patients died of suicide by hanging.

Dean Funabiki, 67, turned himself in to police at the request of investigators and accompanied by his attorney late Friday night after a patient came forward, saying he raped her during treatment, according to a Pullman Police Department news release.

Funabiki died at the Whitman Hospital and Medical Center in Colfax, according to a news release from the Coroner’s Office, after Whitman County Sheriff’s Office officials found him hanging from a bed frame in his cell Sunday night.

Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers said suicides at the Whitman County Jail are rare.

“I think it’s been about a decade since someone successfully killed themselves in our jails,” he said.

Funabiki was not on suicide watch. For an inmate to be considered for suicide watch, they need to meet certain criteria during a preliminary evaluation. Most inmates don’t meet these criteria, meaning that officers check on them every hour instead of every 15 minutes, which those on suicide watch receive, Myers said.

Funabiki didn’t raise any red flags to officers leading up to his death. Those accused of committing a serious crime usually go under more scrutiny, but this was the only thing that would make officers possibly worry about him. However, most people held in the Whitman County Jail are facing serious charges, Myers said.

Pullman Police Cmdr. Chris Tennant said police marked the case as closed for statistical purposes, although it may be reopened if more victims come forward. The trial will not take place now that Funabiki has died.

Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy said because of Funabiki’s death, his office no longer has an open case regarding the incident.

The Prosecutor’s Office can help victims of violent crimes, or assist in finding outside care if their needs are outside the scope of what the office can provide.

“My office does have a person who’s devoted to facilitating communications with victims,” Tracy said. “We provide the services that we’re allowed to provide, but that does not include counseling or direct representation of the victim.”

Myers said Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse serves as the local primary provider of counseling and other resources.


WSU Counseling and Psychological Services offers 24-hour crisis resources at (509) 335-2159. Appointments can be scheduled at (509) 335-4511, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 at any time.


Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Dean Funabiki had confessed to raping one of his patients.