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Second migrant this year dies by suicide in New York City shelter, officials say

The latest suicide comes amid overcrowding in New York City's shelters and a surge of asylum-seekers crossing the border as Title 42 remains in limbo.

A second migrant died by suicide in a New York City shelter last week, according to officials and NBC New York.

The person died Wednesday at a Queens shelter, according to NBC New York, which reported that sources said he was a 26-year-old man, possibly from Venezuela, who was in the U.S. with his child and the child's mother.

A spokesperson for the city Department of Social Services called the suicide “an absolutely heart-breaking tragedy” in a statement and said officials are working to support the family.

The spokesperson said state law prevents officials from disclosing any specifics about the case.

"These families are coming to New York City after a months-long harrowing journey, in some cases, still reeling from the trauma they experienced along the way," the spokesperson said. "We recognize the very unique challenges asylum seekers are facing and we remain committed to continuing to build on our ongoing efforts and interagency coordination to connect these families and individuals to mental health supports as we help them stabilize their lives in a new country.”

A female asylum-seeker died by suicide in a New York City shelter in September. The shelters face an overcrowding crisis, having housed nearly 65,000 people as of Sunday, city data shows.

Nearly 21,700 asylum seekers were in the city's care as of Sunday, and the city has opened 60 emergency shelters and four humanitarian emergency response and relief centers following the thousands of migrants who have arrived in New York City by bus from out of state since the spring, according to information provided by the mayor's office. More than 31,800 asylum seekers have gone through the city's shelter system since the spring, the mayor's office said.

An estimated 6 million Venezuelans have fled their country amid food insecurity and political instability, and the number of those crossing the U.S. border has increased fourfold over the past year, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Venezuelans also make up the majority of migrants Republican governors have bused to Democratic-led cities

Some migrants have said they have struggled to find work and build their lives upon arriving.

The Department of Social Services spokesperson said that the shelters provide bilingual support and social services and that they can provide connections to more targeted mental health resources, adding that the city has ramped up the presence of bilingual support staffers in shelters after the influx of migrants.

A bus carrying migrants arrives into the Port Authority bus station in New York City in Aug. 2022.
A bus carrying migrants arrives at the Port Authority bus station in New York City in August.Spencer Platt / Getty Images file

In October, the influx of migrants prompted Mayor Eric Adams to declare a state of emergency, requiring “all relevant city agencies to coordinate their efforts to respond to the asylum seeker humanitarian crisis.”

On Monday, at least two buses of migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border arrived at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, NBC New York reported. Adams said Sunday that the city could receive up to 1,000 migrants a week if Title 42 is lifted, according to the station.

The Trump administration deployed the federal rule, which prevents asylum-seekers from entering the country during public health emergencies, during the coronavirus pandemic. Immigration and humanitarian groups contend the Trump administration used the rule as a pretext to deny relief to asylum-seekers, and they have criticized the Biden administration for keeping it in place.

The rule had been set to be lifted Wednesday, but the Supreme Court put a temporary hold on the ruling Monday, leaving it in limbo.

Adams told reporters Monday that the influx of migrants will affect "every service we provide," including education and public safety. He did not appear to address the recent suicide in his remarks.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.