A 16-year-old mother poisoned her child and attempted suicide Saturday night in Mexico City, claiming that she did not have enough money for food, police say.
The woman, identified as Vanessa, told police she ingested the poison and also gave it to her 15-month-old child, Jesús. When Vanessa awoke Sunday morning, the child was unresponsive.
Neighbors saw her leave her home without the baby and decided to look through the young mother’s window to check on the child. They saw him motionless and called authorities.
Paramedics were unable to revive Jesús who had likely been dead for several hours, they said.
Police began canvassing neighbors in the search for Vanessa, who eventually turned herself in.
She told police that she and her son had gone without food for three days prior to the poisoning and that she couldn’t bear to watch him starve.
Vanessa was arrested and turned over to the special prosecutor for crimes committed by adolescents.
On average, more than 6,000 people commit suicide each year in Mexico, according to the Department of Psychiatry of the National Autonomous University (UNAM).
Experts agree that poverty is one of the reasons why young adults commit suicide.
Silvia Ortiz León, chief of UNAM’s Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, says there are a number of factors that can cause despair in young people. “Violence, deprivation, poverty, family dysfunction,” coupled with “lack of access to areas where they can develop, for example, spaces for sports or culture,” can have serious consequences on a young person’s mental health and lead to mental illness and suicidal thoughts, Ortiz says.
The case is similar to one that occurred in August 2016 in Tlajomulco, Jalisco, where a woman committed suicide and killed her two children, a 14-year-old and a 7-year-old by leaving the stove’s gas on as they slept. In a suicide note, she said that poverty was the reason for her decision.