On Monday afternoon a trail runner found a 52-year-old Asheville man with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head, only a few feet off the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This was the 5th suicide in the park in just three weeks.
On Thursday, August 9th, rangers located the body of a 25-year-old Asheville woman with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to her head at the Rough Butt Bald Overlook.
On August 7th NPS Digest reported that Blue Ridge Parkway rangers investigated two separate suicides in the park on August 2nd and 3rd. On Thursday, Shenandoah dispatch notified Blue Ridge rangers that a bicyclist had seen a vehicle in a small gravel pullout off the parkway with an unresponsive woman inside who had a gun in her hand. They found the body of a 53-year-old North Carolina woman with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to her head. A note to her family was found in which she said that she’d been depressed and suffering from dependency on prescription drugs. On Friday, visitors found the body of a 43-year-old North Carolina man at a parkway overlook. Evidence indicated that he’d died from a drug overdose. The vehicle had been stolen from an acquaintance in Virginia and driven to the parkway, where it was found later that evening by some visitors who’d seen him at that same location earlier in the morning.
July 25th rangers and county officers found the body of a 41-year-old Georgia woman with a gunshot wound to the head at the Devil’s Courthouse Overlook.
A couple years ago Shenandoah National Park experienced a slew of suicides. In doing a little research at that time I found that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in conjunction with the National Park Service, conducted a study on suicide events (suicides and attempted suicides) in national parks between 2003 and 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. Interestingly, the Blue Ridge Parkway had the highest number of deaths, as well as the highest number of total suicide events, according to that study.
Hiking Trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park