Suicide is on the rise in Puerto Rico. Since Hurricane Maria, the number of reported suicide attempts has tripled in the past few months. These numbers come from the Puerto Rico Department of Health.
According to Vox, a psychology professor at Universidad Carlos Albizu in Puerto Rico, confirmed two major possible factors in this rise. Julio Santana Mariño says that Hurricane Maria increased rates of unemployment and homelessness – two known factors for suicide attempts.
“It’s normal for there to be family conflicts, but when you add the stress of more than five months without power, without food, living patterns change…it makes it harder for people to manage daily life,” said Mariño.
The report also explained that many in Puerto Rico still live without power – 16 percent of the population – the longest blackout in US history. The current mental health crisis is only likely to increase as the people of Puerto Rico continue to live without basic necessities, not to mention mental health care facilities.
President Trump has received sharp rebukes from varying sources concerning his administration’s response to the hurricane. One such voice was Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, who made national headlines for insisting that President Trump “do his job.”
Speaking in a Capitol hallway after being denied the opportunity to testify to Congress, the mayor of Puerto Rico’s largest city condemned Trump’s administration.
“The Trump administration can’t handle the truth,” she said, adding that “survival cannot be our new way of life.”
Lin Manuel-Miranda, Puerto Rican actor and director of the smash Broadway hit Hamilton, also did not mince words when criticizing Trump’s lackluster response to the crisis in Puerto Rico.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) September 30, 2017
With these compounding factors for suicide and an administration that appears ambivalent about the struggle of the people of Puerto Rico, it may get a lot worse before it gets any better.
Image provided via Wikimedia Commons by Manos Bourdakis