Korbin Steinwehr was a brother, son, veteran and so much more to those who loved him.
Steinwehr, 23, of Hankinson, died by suicide Tuesday, Sept. 14.
Since his death, his sister Karly Steinwehr, has taken every opportunity to talk about his death and suicide prevention.
“I don’t want anybody else to have to go through what we did and the sad thing is, somebody will. If somebody listening to my story can help one person, then that’s one person’s family that does not have to go through the hurt and the pain after a loved one commits suicide,” Karly said.
Karly Steinwehr and Korbin Steinwehr were 17 and a half years apart in age. Despite the age difference between the two siblings, they were extremely close.
“I was 17 when he was born and very commonly mistaken as his mother through several years of my life,” Karly Steinwehr said.
She turned down potential career opportunities in far away cities to stay in Hankinson and watch her little brother grow up.
Korbin Steinwehr enlisted in the United States Air Force in January of 2017 after graduating from Hankinson High School. He completed basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas in March 2017.
His graduation from basic training culminated in one of Karly Steinwehr’s favorite memories with her brother. She and her cousin navigated through a sea of people with the same uniforms and buzzcuts trying to find her brother during the tap out.
“You have to go out and find them in the crowd and it’s called the tap out. You tap them on the shoulder and then they can acknowledge that you’re there and that you can finally hug them. My cousin was with us and we ran and ran and ran and found him. That first hug was like one of the best, because we were so proud of him getting all the way through that graduation,” Karly Steinwehr said.
After graduation Korbin Steinwehr completed Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants (POL) Tech School at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. He was then stationed at Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo, Guam, from May 2017 to August 2019.
He was then stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base in Grand Forks, North Dakota, starting in September 2019. He served a six-month deployment in Kuwait from January 2020 to July 2020. He was honorably discharged from the air force in June 2021.
Korbin Steinwehr had struggled with his mental health late in high school and it’s likely that he struggled while in the Air Force.
“Korbin was full of light. He always had a smile on his face, always the jokester, happy on the outside all the time. He just unfortunately didn’t have that happiness on the inside as well. For years I think he kind of struggled with some depression and his senior year in high school he got some medication to help that, but then couldn’t be on that the entire time during his military career. I think (he) probably ultimately suffered that whole time, but nobody ever would have known. Just a happy-go-lucky kid all the time,” Karly Steinwehr said.
It was known that problems with mental health ran in the family and they spoke about these issues, but Korbin was not able to show the full extent of his feelings.
Since his death, the family has spent a lot of time sitting around the kitchen table talking about anything and everything.
The community has also rallied around the family, surprising them with a massive show of support at the Out of Darkness Walk in Wahpeton held Saturday, Sept. 18.
The community has also made smaller gestures, such as making sure the family always has something to eat.
“The response from the community has been overwhelming in such a wonderful way. We had more food than we knew what to do with, we don’t have to buy paper products for five years. Everybody is so giving and so loving,” Karly Steinwehr said.
After the death of her brother, Karly said she’s dedicating herself to suicide prevention and awareness. She’ll be walking in another Out of the Darkness Walk in Valley City, North Dakota, in October.
“If you see anybody struggling or you think that they might be struggling, if all of a sudden are shutting themselves out from the things that they’ve been normally doing, talk to them. Encourage them to talk to somebody. Don’t try to just push it off like it’s not that big of a deal. Reach out,” she said.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Help is available, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.