Sunday, October 26, 2014


by FRANCES MARTEL 25 Oct 2014

Out of every 100,000 people in the island nation of Cuba, 16.3 commit
suicide, the highest rate of any country in the Americas in 2009.
According to a study by the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)--the
regional subdivision of the World Health Organization (WHO)--Cuba is
rivaled only by the "non-Hispanic Caribbean" in suicide rates.
The report, titled "Suicide Mortality in the Americas," uses two
different time subdivisions to compare suicide rates in North and South
America: the average of suicide rates between 2005-2009 and the data
available for the last year in which that country provided statistics.
In the former category, all of the Americas fare better than the global
average for suicide, and Cuba's average pales in comparison to Guyana
and Suriname (23.44 and 22.79 per 100,000 people, respectively).
Statistics provided for the last available year, however, show Cuba's
suicide rate high above other nations. For comparison, Guyana recorded
16.04 suicides per 100,000 people, while Suriname recorded 14.79 in the
same year.
The United States recorded 11.38 suicides per 100,000 population in
2009. Jamaica recorded 0.30 per 100,000. The lowest suicide rate that
year in the Americas was recorded in Haiti, where only 0.05 people per
100,000 took their own lives.
According to the Cuban dissident news outlet Martí Noticias, the vast
majority of people who commit suicide in Cuba choose to do so by
asphyxia (71.6%). Poison is in second place (10%), while a surprising
9.2% self-immolate.
The PAHO notes that their information is reliable but ultimately
incomplete, as they must rely on government figures provided to them,
and countries often differ on what kinds of deaths to classify as
suicides. "The validity of reported cases can be obscured by cultural
and religious factors, as well as by the stigma attached to those who
take their own lives. ... There are legal differences between the
countries regarding which deaths should be classified as suicides," the
authors note in the study. PAHO researchers and group leaders agree that
one of the main objectives of their study is to begin treating suicide
not as a stigmatized action, but as an often-preventable tragedy
triggered by a host of negative factors that should be individually
Cuba's current political situation--nearly unchanged in more than half a
century--is largely to blame, both for the psychological and economic
hardship that many on the island endure. The Castro dictatorship has
intensified many of its abuses in 2014, particularly the arrest of
prisoners of conscience for peaceful public declarations of opposition
to communism. Some prominent members of the dissident community reported
this summer, when arrests peaked, that they were being arrested almost
weekly. In another harrowing display of police power this year, about
100 women were arrested for taking part in a Catholic mass to pray for
Cubans who were killed by the Cuban government for attempting to travel
to America during the 13 of March Tugboat Massacre.
For Cubans who are not politically or religiously active, the economic
situation appears only to worsen with time. The Castro dictatorship has
begun implementing more restrictions in its embargo on the United
States, preventing Cuban Americans from sending certain amounts of
necessary goods to their relatives on the island, including soap and
underwear. The economic deterioration has led to a surge of refugees
attempting the dangerous sea route off the island to the United States.

Source: New Report: Cuba's Suicide Rate Highest in the Americas in Last
Available Year -

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