Chaos In Puerto Rico: 9 People Die By Suicide After Hurricane Maria, Death Toll Climbs To 34

Suicide
The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide no longer uses the term “commit” in regards to suicide because the word carries a negative connotation. They recommend to use the terms "completed suicide," "took his/her life," or "died by suicide." Photo: MIKE CLARKE/AFP/GettyImages

On the night of Tuesday, October 3, Puerto Rico Police confirmed that nine people had completed suicide after Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 21, 2017. Among the unfortunate losses are six men and three women between the ages of 25 and 69. The reported cases are located in San Juan, Aguadilla, Canóvanas, Villalba, Vega Alta, Caguas and Moca.

The statistics, available on the website of the Puerto Rico Police, reflect a rise in suicides reported in September 2016 and September 2017, with a total of 164 suicides, 23 more than 2016.

According to Primera Hora, an investigation into the effects of 2005 Hurricane Katrina revealed that in areas hit by natural disasters, there is a doubling of suicides and suicide attempts generally reported. The rector of Carlos Albizu University, Julio Santana, reported that there was a "post-traumatic growth" after the phenomenon. It is also reported that the population generally vulnerable to suicide are young adults, between 30 and 50 years.

"Many of them generate the economic and social support of the family and, having lost jobs and homes, having to seek support for the purchase of medicines and the care of their families, in this extreme situation they feel unable to maintain and give that support to the family," said Santana, who is also a clinical psychologist.

A spokesman for Governor Ricardo Rosello also said that the death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria has more than doubled to 34. Pedro Cerame, the governor's director of communications in Washington, said that Maria was the worst hurricane to hit the unincorporated U.S. territory.

Hurricane Maria An Inhabitant of the Puerto Nuevo neighborhood walks through flood water during the passage of Hurricane Maria, in the neightborhood Puerto Nuevo, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 20, 2017. Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on Wednesday, cutting power on most of the US territory as terrified residents hunkered down in the face of the island's worst storm in living memory. After leaving a deadly trail of destruction on a string of smaller Caribbean islands, Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico's southeast coast around daybreak, packing winds of around 150mph (240kph). HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images

Category 4 Maria, left the whole island blacked out and badly damaged the houses, leaving a trail of total destruction, as did the collapse in all communication lines. The storm ripped trees out of the ground and caused widespread flooding, particularly in San Juan, the capital, where many residential streets looked like rivers. 

The powerful tropical cyclone made landfall in Puerto Rico with winds of 155 mph (250 km/h), becoming the strongest to hit the territory since the 1928 San Felipe hurricane, as well as the most intense hurricane to hit the territory in recorded history.

Two weeks after the passage of Maria, the president of the United States Donald Trump, visited Puerto Rico with his wife, the first lady Melania Trump. During his very brief and controversial visit, the president reported that the total death toll for the natural disaster was 16 people; later, on that same day Ricardo Rosselló indicated that the number increased from 16 to 34 and that the hurricane caused damages of 90,000 million dollars throughout the whole island.

As usual, Trump couldn’t leave behind the controversy, especially when he downplayed the storm by the low number of victims and not being a "real catastrophe," comparing Maria to Hurricane Katrina. "Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous — hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here, with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody's ever seen anything like this," he said.

"What is your death count as of this moment? 17? 16 people certified, 16 people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people and all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud. Everybody around this table and everybody watching can really be very proud of what's taken place in Puerto Rico," Trump added.

Many have also cataloged the president's visit as a terrible event, as bad as his tweets, and all because while the American citizens are struggling for survival on the island, the president set out to throw paper towels to the victims as if he were playing basketball.

After what happened, the journalists present at the Rosello press conference, asked the governor what he thought of President Trump's statements, as well as what he did at the evangelical church in Guaynabo, near San Juan; Rossello simply said: "I'm not going to comment on the optics of the trip.”

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Lifestyle Reporter

Shirley Gomez has been exposed to many aspects of the art world. Besides being a Fashion Journalist, she studied Fashion Styling and Fashion Styling for Men at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Interior Design at UNIBE and Fashion Design at ITSMJ Fashion School in the Dominican Republic. She worked as a Fashion Journalist, Fashion Stylist and Social Media Manager at one of the most recognized magazines in the Dominican Republic, Oh! Magazine, as an occasional Entertainment Journalist, of the prestigious newspaper “Listín Diario”, as well as a fashion collaborator of a radio show aired in 100.9 FM SuperQ. When Shirley is not writing you can find her listening Demi Lovato or Beyonce's songs, decorating her apartment or watching Family Feud.

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