A new project from the Pultizer Center on Crisis Reporting highlights an alarming trend in Cuba—waves of suicides that have echoed the nation’s political and economic ups-and-downs for decades. Lygia Navarro reports for The Virginia Quarterly Review:

Socialismo o Muerte. Socialism or Death. In that slogan splashed across Cuba, there is nothing honorable, or revolutionary, about choosing suicide; the very idea is intensely political and taboo. Sit down with most medical professionals in Cuba, in fact, and they will assure you that suicide is rare, that there is nothing striking about the country’s relation to self-destruction. They may not even know the truth themselves, may never have seen the statistics: according to the World Health Organization, year after year, more Cubans commit suicide than citizens of any other Latin American country. The national suicide rate trails just behind that of the People’s Republic of China, of high-strung developed countries such as Japan and Finland, and of a slew of depressed post-Soviet states.

The Cuban government does not track suicide rates, or the use of anti-depressants and sedatives, which are hot commodities on the black market. Six months after Fidel Castro left power, Navarro talks to Cubans struggling with this silent epidemic.

Carrie Ching

Carrie Ching is an award-winning, independent multimedia journalist and producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For six years, she led digital storytelling projects at the Center for Investigative Reporting as senior multimedia producer. Her multimedia reports have been featured by NPR.org, The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Grist, Time.com, Fast Company, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, KQED, PBS NewsHour, Salon.com, Mother Jones, Public Radio International, Poynter, Columbia Journalism Review and many other publications. Her specialty is crafting digital narratives and exploring ways to use video, audio, photography, animation and interactive graphics to push the boundaries of storytelling on the Web, tablets and mobile. Her work has been honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Best of the West, the Online News Association, Scripps Howard, The Gracies, and was part of the entry in a Pulitzer-finalist project. Prior to her time at CIR she was a magazine and book editor, video journalist, newspaper reporter and TV comedy scriptwriter. She was on the 2010 Eddie Adams Workshop faculty as a multimedia producer working with MediaStorm to teach digital storytelling techniques to photojournalists. She completed a master’s degree in journalism at UC Berkeley in 2005.