15 | SEP | 2019
Suicides surge in Mexico amidst drug trafficking and violence
Doctor Alejandro Águila Tejeda claimed that the normalization of violence has affected men and women not just in public spaces, but also in their private lives - Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL

Suicides surge in Mexico amidst drug trafficking and violence

10/04/2019
14:35
Blanca Corzo
Mexico City
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According to official figures, more than 37 thousand people have committed suicide in Mexico in the past six years

Suicide and violence go hand in hand. According to official figures, more than 37 thousand people have committed suicide in Mexico in the past six years. 59% of the victims were living in states that showed high crime rates.

The numbers don’t lie and the “normalization of violence” seems to have a strong effect on addictions and suicide, according to the doctor and founder of the Hispanic-American Institute of Suicidology, Alejandro Águila Tejeda.

According to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), between January 2012 and December 2017, a total of 37,150 people committed suicide in Mexico. An average of 17 a day.

During said period, more than half of suicide cases reported in the country (a total of 21,757) were concentrated in around 10 states. The State of Mexico topped the list, with 3,704 cases; Jalisco was second, with 3,275; Guanajuato, with 2,530; Mexico City, 2,333, and Chihuahua, with 2,165.

Chiapas ranked sixth, with 1,675 cases; Veracruz, 1,649; Puebla, 1,529; Nuevo León, 1,509, and Sonora, with 1,388. Out of the list, six states showed high rates of serious crimes.

The Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP) detected that the most violent states from January 2012 to December 2017 matched those with the highest suicide rates.

The states that showed the highest rates of serious crimes were: The State of Mexico, with 19,715 crimes; Guerrero, with 14,138; Jalisco, with 10,935; Mexico City, 10,020, and Chihuahua, with 8,804.

Next was Veracruz, with 8,798; Baja California, with 7,964; Nuevo León, with 7,320; Michoacán, 7,286, and Sinaloa, with 6,955 serious crimes.

Although Guanajuato, Puebla, and Sonora did not make the list of the 10 most violent states in Mexico, they did register an increase in crime rates which coincided with an increase in suicide rates.

On the other hand, there were some southern states that registered a surge in number of suicides even though they did not show a large number of serious crimes, which troubled state authorities since said states have a low population density.

Such is the case of Yucatán, where 113 people committed suicide between 2012 and 2017; Aguascalientes registered 728 cases; Campeche, 478; Coahuila, 1,051; Querétaro, 656, and Quintana Roo, 799 cases.

Crime has eaten away at life

Doctor Alejandro Águila Tejeda claimed that the normalization of violence has affected men and women not just in public spaces, but also in their private lives. One needs not make a criminal offense to take away somebody else’s life.

“The normalization of violence, threats, death, and persecutions has had a strong influence on Mexican youth, causing addictions and suicide,” stated the specialist.

In the case of Chihuahua, which currently ranks fifth in violence and suicide rates, Águila Tejeda explained that, for instance, Ciudad Juárez, which is a border city and one of the main channels for drug trafficking across the U.S. border, not only has an extremely high criminal rate, but has also shown high suicide rates caused by the hostile environment generated by organized crime.

It was considered the most violent city in the world for three years in a row (2008-2010), according to the Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice.

A product of drug trafficking, this region became a landmark of drug exports and consumption, which has generated other issues as well.

“The drug trafficking organizations charged quotas (derecho de piso) from business owners. Forcing between 80% and 90% of shops out of business,” commented Águila.

Furthermore, he added, suicide is the second cause of death among young people in the country. The schools in Ciudad Juárez are a glaring example of this. Out of every four students, at least one has or has had suicidal thoughts at some point.

Men or women?

The INEGI detected that, over that six-year period, 81% of people who successfully committed suicide were men. However, this doesn’t imply that women did not think about taking their own lives.

According to the suicidologist, women had attempted suicide more often than men, though their efforts usually failed because their chosen method was less lethal. While men usually decide to end their lives by hanging or shooting themselves, women opt to ingest some sort of medication that proves ineffective.

Suicide methods

According to official data, 79% of people who committed suicide did so by hanging, strangulation, or suffocation; 9% by firearm; 8% by poisoning, and 4% by other means.

In terms of age, a spokeswoman from the Mexican Suicidology Association, Luz de Lourdes Eguiluz, commented that young people are not the only vulnerable group; suicide rates have also shown an increase among the elderly. Between January 2012 and December 2017, 10% of suicides were committed by senior citizens.
 

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