Rangers successfully intervened in two suicide attempts this spring and investigated a third in which a woman succeeded in her efforts by driving her car off Skyline Drive and crashing several hundred feet below:
On April 29th, a police dispatcher in Harrisonburg received a call from a man who said that he was camping on Turk Mountain and was going to shoot himself. Park dispatch was contacted and rangers helped the Harrisonburg dispatcher talk the man into leaving his weapon at his campsite and hiking to Skyline Drive to meet them. They took the man into protective custody at the trailhead and transported him to the Augusta Medical Center. They then recovered his weapon and all the items from his campsite. The man had been hiking the Appalachian Trail in the park for a week when he made the call.
On May 17th, park dispatch was contacted by the sheriff’s office in Jefferson County, West Virginia, and advised that a man had called his wife and told her that he’d taken enough medication to be dead within 15 minutes. Rangers determined that the 53-year-old man had registered at Skyland Lodge. When they reached his room, several hours after he’d called his wife, they found him unconscious in his room and suffering from severe respiratory distress. Basic and advanced life support measures employed by rangers and Page County rescue personnel greatly aided in keeping him alive.
On June 2nd, a park maintenance crew working at Horsehead Overlook on Skyline Drive noticed that vegetation was laid down at the edge of the overlook and discovered a vehicle 300 to 400 feet below. Rangers found that the sole occupant had not survived the crash and that she had been listed as missing and suicidal by police in Farmville the day before. A suicide note was found inside along with notes indicating that she’d scouted other Shenandoah overlooks that night.