Monday, August 16, 2010

Border Patrol Suicides Rising

Border Patrol sees spike in suicides

16 August 2010 - After a bad day on the job as a Border Patrol agent, Eddie DeLaCruz went home and began discussing with his wife how to celebrate her upcoming birthday. Then he casually pressed his government-issued handgun under his chin and pulled the trigger.


A month later, one of DeLaCruz's colleagues at the Fort Hancock border post put a bullet through his head, too.


The job, which starts at about $37,000 a year, has changed dramatically since the hiring surge began. Two years ago, an agent at a busy border station might have processed 150 illegal crossers a day.

But stepped-up border security - including 600 miles of fence and an even larger "virtual" fence that is monitored online - has reduced the number of illegal crossings, as has the economic hardship of the recession.

The result is a job that went from thrilling to downright boring. Agents often spent 12-hour shifts sitting alone in Jeeps and pickups keeping watch for illegal immigrants.

"Now an agent may start his shift and sit in one position for eight hours and monitor traffic and do their work," said psychologist Kenneth Middleton, clinical director of the Border Patrol's peer-support program. "Now they've got a whole lot of time to think about other things going on in their life." {read more}

AP Video with report

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