Increasing Suicide Rates in Puerto Rico

 

During January, and so far in February, there have been 29 suicides in Puerto Rico according to Primera Hora. That’s 12 more cases than the amount reported around this same month in 2018, a year in which there were close to 300 cases of suicide.

So far, 24 people hanged themselves, and others opted for the use of firearms or throwing themselves into the void. Additionally, 24 of the 29 suicides in 2019 have been of men.

Although 90 percent of cases have been associated with mental disorders, such as depression and substance abuse, this is a situation that could happen to ANYONE. In fact, according to information provided by the Commission for the Prevention of Suicide, through the portal of the Department of Health, suicide is the third highest cause of violent death in Puerto Rico and five percent of the general population could be experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Everyone can be liable for stressful situations where they think that their only option is suicide. They may just think they have no one to talk to.

An example of this is the uncertainty that Puerto Ricans faced in times of recovery after hurricanes Irma and María in 2017 disrupted the mental health of our island. After this, according to el Nuevo Día, 253 people committed suicide, 57 more than the year before. Although there is no evidence that this rise was due to the hurricanes, there could be a correlation between the two.

When Hurricane María arrived, it generated extraordinary unemployment rates and people started to migrate, which affected emotional stability in families. Losing family members is a great stressor. Those who stayed are left with the perception of abandonment.

The main point is that not everyone that experiences suicidal thoughts necessarily has mental disorders. More than five months without electricity or food makes it harder for people to manage their everyday lives.

It all goes back to the fact that, in stressful situations, we often don’t know what to do or who to talk to that won’t judge our thoughts. It is important to get help when having thoughts that affect your mental health. Talk to a professional, or talk to friends. You don’t have to go to therapy but it could help.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, talk to someone, tell a health professional, visit a psychologist or psychiatrist, and seek help today. In a crisis, call the PAS Line (Primera Ayuda Sicosocial/First Sicosocial Help) at 1-800-981-0023, or 9-1-1.

 

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