This story comes from Vermont.
I haven’t written about Bhutanese refugees in awhile. To date, we moved over 96,000 of the Nepali people (mostly Hindu, some Buddhists) who had been expelled from Bhutan to American towns and cities.
Go here for a post which gives a little of the background about the George W. Bush era plan to help the UN clean out its camps on the border of Nepal. It was supposed to be a joint effort with many other countries, but of course we took the vast majority of them.
We said we would take 60,000 beginning in 2007, but as is always the case, we go way beyond what we told the public we would do.
Here is where they were distributed in the US (from Wrapsnet):
We have also reported on many previous occasions about the exceedingly high suicide rate in the US Bhutanese ‘community.’
It is interesting to me that many do-gooders who push refugee resettlement to America never grasp that some people cannot make the cultural shift and that pushing resettlement can actually have deadly consequences, as it did for this man.
If you go back to my early posts (see archive) on the Bhutanese resettlement, you will see that the camp dwellers initially fought like hell to not be “scattered to the four winds.”
Note that he worked in a meat processing plant! Even in Vermont, refugees work in slaughterhouses! Why didn’t that make him happy?
From Seven Days:
Agencies Alarmed by Bhutanese Refugee Suicides
On the morning of April 10, Indra Mainali was running errands in preparation for his daughter’s birthday party when he received a frantic phone call from his wife. Indra’s father, Hari, had called her and said, “If you want to see me for the last time, come to Ethan Allen Homestead.”
Indra rushed home and contacted Rita Neopaney, a Bhutanese case manager at the Association of Africans Living in Vermont, who alerted the police.
When Indra arrived at the Burlington landmark, where Hari had established a garden plot the previous summer, an officer told him his father was dead. Asked how it happened, the officer replied, according to Indra, “He used a rope. We will know more after the postmortem.”
Bhutanese refugees resettled in the U.S. are twice as likely to die by suicide as members of the general population, according to a report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012. That report covered 16 deaths reported in 10 states between 2009 and 2012, none of which were in Vermont. But the local landscape has since changed.
Hari, 52, was the second local Bhutanese refugee to die by suicide this year, according to members of that community, which numbers about 2,500.
Health providers and social support agencies that work with Bhutanese refugees are concerned about “what seems to be a growing trend,” said Friedman. “This is something all of us have a responsibility to be working on.”
The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement prompted the CDC to investigate suicides among ethnic-Nepali Bhutanese refugees after finding that, from 2009 to 2012, their estimated age-adjusted suicide rate was 24.4 per 100,000 people, nearly twice the rate in the general U.S. population. The CDC’s study pinpointed various possible motivations for the suicidal acts, including integration difficulties, family separation, lack of resettlement services and social support, and disappointment with career prospects. All of the suicides studied occurred within a year of arrival in the U.S., and only one of the deceased had ever talked with others about committing suicide.
By all accounts, Hari seemed to have adjusted to his new environment. He worked at a meat processing company, had a garden plot at the Ethan Allen Homestead in summer 2017 and spent his leisure time fishing. Still, he knew little English and lamented that he needed an interpreter for all of his appointments.
Even a government-funded garden plot didn’t help!
However, visit the story which takes a whack at policies in Washington that might have led to his inability to integrate. More government money please!
Meanwhile, at the national level, the federal government is cutting funding for public and mental health services, and anti-immigrant rhetoric is increasingly prevalent. Under these conditions, providers worry about public insensitivity to the stresses that refugees face.
See my category ‘health issues’ where I have posted 349 previous posts on the topic of health, including mental health, of incoming refugees.