Woman dies in suicide near Berkeley’s Old City Hall

Old City Hall. Photo by Melati Citrawireja
Berkeley’s Old City Hall, at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Photo by Melati Citrawireja

Update, Jan. 8, 6:20 p.m. The woman was identified as Shelley Bergum, 63, of Berkeley.

Update, 5:40 p.m. The woman has succumbed to her injuries, authorities report. She was in her 60s, and police are in contact with her family. Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said authorities will not be releasing the woman’s name at this time.

Coats said, initially, an officer heard the gunshot and found the woman.

“Numerous officers rushed to the scene upon hearing the radio broadcast, including a Special Response Team medic,” Coats said. “Several officers worked providing her first aid until they were relieved by Berkeley Fire Department Paramedics.”


City Mobile Crisis Team members were also called to the scene to provide support to a witness of the incident. 

Update, 4:05 p.m. According to unconfirmed dispatch recordings reviewed by Berkeleyside, the female, who was in a wheelchair, was on the path near the south gate of the Public Safety Building’s parking lot behind Old City Hall when she shot herself in the head.

First responders described her condition as “critical,” and homicide detectives were dispatched to the scene. Paramedics took her to Highland Hospital by ambulance.

Original story, 3:57 p.m. A female victim has been taken to the hospital after attempting to commit suicide outside Berkeley’s Old City Hall and police department parking lot, authorities said.

Officer Jennifer Coats, Berkeley Police spokeswoman, said the incident took place just before 2:40 p.m. Thursday.


Coats said she did not know the age of the victim, or her current condition.

Investigators were “busy working the case,” she said at 3:40 p.m., adding that she could not release any additional information at this time.

One reader reported a significant police response in the area, around Allston Way near Martin Luther King Jr. Way, shortly before 3 p.m.

Berkeleyside updated this post when additional information became available.

Warning signs of suicide

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide but may not be what causes a suicide.

What to do

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:

  • Do not leave the person alone
  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
  • Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional

Alameda County offers a 24-hour crisis support line for those seeking mental health assistance. The support line can be reached at 800-309-2131.