National parks are becoming the place to commit suicide. In 2008 33 people choose to end their lives in one of the United States’s national parks. Although the park system doesn’t track the number of suicides it believes it is a high number.
In 2007 there were 26 probable suicides in the parks. More suicides occur at the Grand Canyon than any other park, last year it had 3 deaths.
At Colorado National Monument 26 people attempted to kill themselves with two being successful. Nearby Mesa County has a suicide rate twice the national average.
The rangers who come upon those who kill themselves face an emotional toll. Recovering bodies that have plunged over cliffs are not only expensive but dangerous. Law enforcement rangers are trained in emergency medicine with strategies with dealing with those in a crisis situation.
In some parks, including Colorado National Monument the rangers are trained to keep an eye out for notes taped to steering wheels. Certain areas of that park may soon be closed in certain areas at night.
Rangers prevent several suicides a year but can not be in all places at all times.
The Associated Press reports:
“I think anybody that does the kind of work that we do would like to offer hope to anybody that’s at that point of despair in their life,” said Lane Baker, the Park Service’s chief of law enforcement, security and emergency services. “But I’m not sure we can do anything to change that.”