Since February 2008, 15 Border Patrol agents, 13 of whom were stationed in the Southwest, have committed suicide, the Associated Press reports. This marks an alarming increase for an agency that didn’t have any suicides for almost four years leading up to 2008, the report noted.
It is unclear exactly what is causing more employees to take their own lives, but Border Patrol officials believe it has nothing to do with job conditions, according to a Washington Post story. Still, the agency has taken steps to increase suicide awareness through supervisor training, educational programs, and a video honoring those who have killed themselves and urging depressed agents to seek help.
Agents and family members, however, believe the increase in suicides has everything to do with the job, the Post said. Due to increased border security and a struggling economy, fewer illegal immigrants are crossing into the United States than two years ago. Further, 600 miles of the border are monitored electronically, forcing many agents to spend all day watching computer screens. Others spend hours alone in their cars, waiting for illegal immigrants who are not coming as quickly as they used to.