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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (April 4, 2001 – Saipan Tribune/Abridged)---Suicide cases in the Northern Marianas have soared over the past seven years, and the majority of such cases involve Chamorro males, government records disclosed.

The increasing number of suicides has stirred alarm among health officials, who called suicide an unseen problem in the community.

Case information submitted to the Department of Psychiatry of the Commonwealth Health Center revealed that the victims are predominantly male and between the ages of 15 and 24.

Suicide cases among young people in the Commonwealth rose from 20 percent for every 100,000 individuals in 1992 to 35 percent in 1999. These incidents primarily involve male Micronesians, particularly Chamorros.

According to psychiatry department chair Anthony A. Bottone, suicide rates are astronomically high. They are 325 and 303 cases per 100,000 Micronesian males who are in the 15-19 and 20-24 age groups.

A rate of over 20 per 100,000 is regarded unusually high, especially in a modestly populated area like the CNMI.

Mr. Bottone warned that the rates might increase once the year 2000 census results are released.

He added that developing preventative programs is difficult.

But definitely, drugs and alcohol play an important role in these cases, the expert said.

Reach out programs to help young male Micronesians should be instituted immediately to prevent an increased number of suicide cases, Dr. Bottone suggested.

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