Posted 61 days ago
The unprecedented crisis at the southern border appears to be taking a toll on rank-and-file Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers — with three agents taking their lives in November.
This brings the 2022 total suicides within the agency to 14, more than any year in over a decade, sources told The Post.
“It’s a very serious epidemic that’s happening within the agency,” said US Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), whose congressional district runs along the US-Mexico border from Del Rio to El Paso.
While there’s no single reason attributed for the spike in agent suicides, Gonzales feels the ongoing migrant crisis — with more than 2 million people crossing the border in the last year, hundreds of immigrant deaths, children arriving alone at border crossings, long work hours and dealing with high-stress situations — is taking its toll.
“Work has gotten very difficult on them,” explained Gonzales, who is in touch with Border Patrol agents every day. “I’ve seen it in their faces. I’ve heard it in their voices for months now. It’s almost, ‘How much can a person take?’ And often, they’ve taken a lot before they break.”
Border Patrol Agent Robert M. Boatwright, who was stationed in Las Cruces, New Mexico, was identified Monday as the latest agent to take his life.
“Sadly, early indications suggest that BPA Boatwright succumbed to suicide,” tweeted Chief Raul Ortiz, the head of the Border Patrol, without specifying what led to the 49-year-old’s death.
“I recently met with BPA Boatwright’s co-workers, and they described his amazing work ethic and willingness to help others.”
Boatwright, a US Army veteran, died Nov. 20. He had been an agent for 10 years and a canine handler since 2016. He left behind a wife and two children.
The other two deaths happened on back-to-back weekends, with Supervisory Border Patrol Agents Roque “Rocky” Sarinana and Javier R. Fabela taking their lives on Nov. 6 and 13, respectively.
The National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents 18,000 Border Patrol agents, confirmed to The Post there have been 14 suicides in 2022 by its count. They include eight Border Patrol agents, five Office of Field Operations officers and one support staffer. In other years, they have recorded between five and 12 suicides.
The issue has led CBP to hire “suicidologist” Dr. Kent Corso to help. Although an individual’s decision to take their own life is a complex one with many factors from personal lives and various circumstances contributing, Corso is helping the agency understand and work to do its best to help prevent further suicides.... (Read more)