NEW YORK — People are traveling to New York City with the aim of killing themselves in a phenomenon researchers call "suicide tourism," a Manhattan public health expert reported Monday.
Research reported in Washington at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Assn. suggests that one in 10 suicides committed in Manhattan since 1990 have involved nonresidents.
"It's very difficult to predict from our data why this is occurring," said David Vlahov, director of the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies at the New York Academy of Medicine.
The data strongly underscore that people are willing to travel great distances to end their lives, Vlahov said.
Most of the out-of-towners who committed suicide were men, predominantly white, followed by Latinos.
Vlahov and colleagues studied suicides in New York City that occurred between 1990 and 2004.
They found that among the 7,634 suicide victims citywide, 407 were nonresidents.
Examining coroners' reports, they found that people had traveled from faraway states and even other countries.
The coroners' files also identified the most popular places to commit suicide.
The Empire State Building ranked high, as it has for decades among residents.
Times Square and the George Washington Bridge were also commonly selected by nonresidents.
Traveling to well-known sites for suicide is a pattern that has been recognized in other regions of the United States, said Christine Cione of the Long Island Crisis Center.
A prime example of the phenomenon is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
"In any instance when someone travels to commit suicide there may be a wish that people will see them and somehow try to stop them," Cione said.