Yesterday I posted a story about suicides in Shenandoah National Park, and questioned why it seemed there were so many in that park, while not hearing about suicides in other parks.
Then, coincidentally, I discovered this morning that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just published a report on Suicides in National Parks in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for Dec. 3.
The CDC, in conjunction with the National Park Service, conducted a study on suicide events (suicides and attempted suicides) in national parks from 2003 thru 2009. During that time period, 286 suicide events were reported from a total of 84 parks. 194 (68%) were completed suicides, and 92 (32%) were attempted suicides.
Although Shenandoah had the seventh highest number of suicide events during that time period, there were 13 parks that had higher death rates. Interestingly, the Blue Ridge Parkway had the highest number of deaths, as well as the highest number of total suicide events. This coincides with the comment left on my posting from yesterday by Bruce Bytnar, a former BRP Ranger.
During that same time period, the Great Smoky Mountains reported three attempted suicides and two suicide deaths.
Among some of the other key findings:
* 83% of the 194 suicides in the parks involved males.
* The mean age of people who committed suicide or tried to in the parks was 43, ranging from 16 to 84.
* The highest number of suicides occurred in June (22) followed by August (21) and January (21).
* The highest number of attempted suicides occurred in July (17) followed by 11 in May.
* Firearms were involved in 33% of the suicide attempts, followed by falls at 19% (many by jumping off cliffs or bridges), suffocations at 9%, poisoning at 7% (included drug overdoses), and cuts and piercings at 6%. Also, in 6% of suicide attempts, people used motor vehicles, which typically involved driving over a cliff.
The following is a list of the top 10 national parks for suicide deaths between 2003 and 2009:
Blue Ridge Parkway: 15 deaths
Colorado National Monument: 12
Grand Canyon: 11
Natchez Trace: 11
Golden Gate: 11
New River Gorge: 9
Yosemite National Park: 6
Cuyohoga Valley: 5
Cape Hatteras: 4
Chattahoochee River: 4
Death Valley: 4
Glen Canyon: 4
You can read the full study by clicking here.