We’ve been watching the horrific news of how difficult it has been to get relief to many of our neighbors in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Companies who have been granted millions in funding from the U.S. government to provide necessary supplies, have under-performed and simply, dropped the ball, when it came to restoring and supplying power, food, and resources to those in need. It’s been three months, and the process of getting Puerto Rico back to normal has been slow and painful, especially for those who live out in the rural areas of the country. Newsweek has reported that the pains of Hurricane Maria have been negatively affecting the mental state of many residents; suicides have increased drastically since Hurricane Maria, at least one person each day has taken their own life.
A recent report from the Commission for Suicide Prevention stated that 227 people committed suicide on the island in 2017; a 16 percent increase from the year before. 85 percent of the suicides were committed by men, and 15 percent were committed by women; researchers state that the spike is directly related to the effects of Hurricane Maria.
“If someone is in a position where they do not have any electricity, water or a roof over their head, you’re going to either break and sometimes break to the point of committing suicide. You can only live so much without the simple necessities of having a roof over your head,” said Alicia Schwartz from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Psychologists in Puerto Rico said that residents have been suffering from severe mental health issues since the storm, and a major factor hindering them from getting the help they need, has to do with something that many communities of color deal with; people who do not believe in seeking help. According to Dr. Scwartz:
“One of the problems we have is that Hispanic individuals don’t believe in mental health, but the other issue we have is access to mental health. Those who don’t live in populated cities are unreachable to this day, and they don’t have people to go to them for mental health help.”
Dr Schwartz recalled an incident of being in the home of one of her patients, not long after the storm and the patient explaining to her that, he “sometimes feels like grabbing a rope” to kill himself.
In some very unfortunate news, as I was preparing this blog post, The Associated Press just announced that, “A blackout hit northern Puerto Rico after an explosion sets off a big fire at a main power substation.” This means that many of the areas that have had power restored have now been hit, and there are no reports when this disaster will be fixed.
Let’s continue to pray for Puerto Rico, but in correlation with your prayers, demand your state representatives and President do something in the wake of people who are continuing to suffer.
I sure hope that @realDonaldTrump calls the President of Puerto Rico to see if they need any help.
— Dominic Fabiscus (@DominicFabiscus) February 12, 2018
Knowing that millions of people in Puerto Rico still don’t have power #ThingsThatPushMyButton
— Osvaldo 🐉 (@DragonSpirit88) February 12, 2018
— Geysha Gonzalez (@geyshapaola) February 12, 2018