More than 200 people in Yucatán died by their own hand, including 15 youths between 11 and 17, last year. The number was not considered unusual in a state that has double the national average of suicides.
In fact, Yucatan’s suicide rate is five times higher than its murder rate.
Holidays provided no relief. Five self-inflicted deaths — four men and one woman — occurred on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
And early on New Year’s Day 2021, two suicides were reported in Kanasín. One was reportedly depressed over the COVID-19 pandemic. Another had argued with his family before retreating to his room.
The suicide rate in Yucatán is nearly the highest in Mexico, practically tied with Aguascalientes, reported the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi). More than 80% of all suicides are committed by men, by hanging.
In Mexico, suicide figures have increased in the last 50 years, especially among young people of working age and those over 60.
Anxiety over the pandemic, combined with untreated mental health issues, contribute to Yucatán’s high rate of self-inflicted deaths, said Edilberto Peña, a neuropsychiatrist in Mexico City.
Mental health treatment is hard to find in Yucatán, especially outside the capital city. According to one government report, only 72 out of the 74 psychiatrists working in the state are in Mérida.
Mexico is No. 2 in the world for attaching a stigma toward mental health care, the report also concluded.
A federal forum concluded that Mexico lacks public policies to counter this phenomenon. Dr. Carlos Valencia Barrera commented that although suicide is a public health problem, the issue is not usually on the government’s agenda.
For expert suicide counseling, reach out to:
- Salvemos una Vida (Let’s save a Life), AC, 999-924-5991.
- Programa Integral para la Atención del Suicidio (Comprehensive Program for Suicide Care), 999-310-3662 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Free mental health support line: 01-800-000-0779.
Staff may not be able to communicate with a caller who is not proficient in Spanish, so enlisting a bilingual friend could be helpful.