15 | NOV | 2019
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Sanjuana Vázquez, mother of Joel, a 19-year-old who killed himself, believes that dark forces pushed him into suicide. (Photo: Héctor García / LA VANGUARDIA)

Laguna del Rey, in Coahuila, has the highest suicide rate in the world

06/12/2015
14:39
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In the last ten months six people have killed themselves in the town of 4,000 inhabitants. Locals attribute suicides to alcoholism, family breakdown, unemployment and even witchcraft.

By Francisco Rodríguez

Laguna del Rey, in Coahuila, Mexico, has the highest suicide rate in the world. From December 21, 2014 until October 4, 2015 six people killed themselves in the town of 4,000 inhabitants.

This represents a suicide rate of 133 for every 100,000 inhabitants, 11.6 more than the world average (11.4) and 26 times more than Mexico's average (5), according to data provided by the World Health Organization.

Locals attribute suicides to alcoholism, family breakdown, unemployment and even witchcraft.

According to a survey conducted by the Iberoamerican University of Torreón, 15% of the participants aged between 15 and 18 admitted having a relative who committed suicide, and two in every ten said that at least one relative had attempted to do so. Moreover, three in every ten admitted having suicidal thoughts.

Moreover, nine out of every ten participants said that “witches” have a positive or negative influence in the behavior of the population, and 48.6% believe that a sect is punishing the community.

Sergio Garza, a researcher at Iberoamerican University who headed the investigation, said that at Laguna del Rey there are "no educational development opportunities.” He added that its inhabitants tend to live with a partner at an early age.

On March 6, 2015 Joel, 19, committed suicide. He grew up with his grandparents because his mother got pregnant when she was very young. He met his father when he was 10, and at age 13, he found him hanging at his house. An uncle and a cousin also killed themselves.

Since then, he constantly threatened his family with suicide. He did not work, neither study. Some times he helped a friend sell corn, for 20 pesos (US$1.2) a day.

However his family believes that a “dark power” pushed him into suicide. The inhabitants of Laguna del Rey say that the devil entered Joel's room when he committed suicide. Others reported seeing “beings” dressed in black before the victims killed themselves. They believe that photos of the suicides are kept in a with cave in the town.

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