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Suicides in National Parks Preventable, CDC Says

THURSDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Suicides in U.S. national parks are a serious but preventable health issue, researchers say.

In a recent seven-year span, 84 national parks reported 194 suicides and 92 attempted suicides, an average of 41 events a year, according to the research. Firearms and falls, such as jumping from a cliff or bridge, were the most frequently used methods.

The findings appear in the Dec. 3 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most of the completed suicides -- 83 percent -- involved males, the research showed.

Even though the number of suicides in national parks is small compared to the overall suicide toll in the country, each case represents a tragic and preventable death that deeply affects families and friends, the authors pointed out.

The researchers, who studied suicide-related events from January 2003 to December 2009, recommended two main approaches to help prevent suicides in national parks. First, parks officials need to collaborate with community suicide prevention programs to increase access to resources, guidance and training. Parks also need to construct barriers or restrict access to sites that may be used for suicide attempts.

Of the parks surveyed, Blue Ridge Parkway and the Grand Canyon National Park reported the most suicide-related events, 21 each.

In 2007, there were 34,598 suicides in the United States, according to the study. About three-quarters of U.S. suicides occur in the home.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about suicide.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Dec. 2, 2010

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