Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria, left thousands of people in the United States, The Caribbean and Puerto Rico homeless in 2017. According to Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello, there are 3.4 million people that have been affected and considering that the people of Puerto Rico are actually U.S. Citizens, they are indeed entitled to have the same government response, but they obviously didn’t get enough.
Unfortunately, this catastrophic event didn’t just affect these people for a short period of time, some of them got so hopeless and depressed that they had to take their own lives.
Puerto Rico’s Suicide Rate Increases
According to the recent report by Commission for the Prevention of Suicide, as of the end of 2017, there are about 200 people in Puerto Rico who have ended their lives. This report was related by Puerto Rico’s Department of Health. Health experts and physicians blame the what happened in September, which was the Hurricane Maria that basically ruined people’s lives and the lack of support in order for them to get back on track and start all over again, simply made them lose hope.
The mental health expert from the Ponce Health Sciences University in Puerto Rico, Dr. Kenira Thompson, said that ever since the hurricane, she has witnessed more and more patients seeking for mental health advice. In fact, she even mentioned in an interview with Newsweek that almost all of her patients have shown signs of severe depression because of hopelessness and it is continuing to increase.
The Hurricane basically ruined the entire island by knocking down houses, buildings and even trees that includes massive flooding and unfortunately the locals had to deal with the aftermath and having to start from scratch is something that would overwhelm someone who has just experienced such catastrophic and traumatic event.
A lot of people also need to live through the fact that they have lost some of their families and friends together with their livelihoods, so Thompson said that it is a lot to deal with and unfortunately, some of her patients couldn’t take it all that they had to commit suicide.
Trauma Prevents People From Moving On
Clinical Psychologist, Carlos del Toro Ortiz said that the survivors of Hurricane Maria are mostly traumatized that most of them get into severe depression. Some even get nightmares that involve their memories of what happened.
He explained how his patients experienced palpitations, sweating, and even hallucinations and kept on repeating the words that they are going to die and they are going to lose everything. Because of what happened, 2,500 people seek medical help from Dr. Toro Ortiz and he had realized that he has never hospitalized that much of people in his entire medical career.
These people undergo mental health screenings and together with the other doctors, there are approximately more than 20 people in a single psychiatric ward all over the island. More people were mentally damaged compared to those who have been physically hurt.
Mental Health Expert To The Rescue
Celebrities such as Ricky Martin, Lin Manuel Miranda, and Jennifer Lopez and other celebrities have extended a helping hand financially for the people who have been affected by the Hurricane Maria.
Unfortunately, financial help is not the only thing that they need, especially after what they had to endure. An assistant professor from the Psychology department of the New Mexico State University, Dr. Ivelisse Torres Fernandez, has been helping with the relief efforts as well as help raise money for her fellow Puerto Rican’s.
Then again, this is not the only kind of help that they need. Dr. Torres Fernandez said that she is creating a study wherein she wouldn’t examine those people who are helping the victims but being victims as well, so basically the volunteers around the area.
She discovered how PTSD or the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is taking over the people of Puerto Rico. It is basically a condition wherein a person affected is triggered by a traumatic recent event. Severe anxiety and uncontrollable flashbacks are one of the main symptoms and it is present among most of the residents.
Her study aims to get information and analyze everything she have gathered and share her conclusions so that people would know what they could do to help in this situations.