On the day after Thanksgiving, 18-year-old Joaquin Luna took his life. An undocumented student in Texas, Luna was reportedly anxious about his immigration status. While the tragedy has been widely reported in some progressive circles, it also points to the deeply disturbing reality that many people struggle with mental illness and thoughts of helplessness, and it’s especially hard for undocumented young people to find help.
There is not an undocumented person or ally, family member or loved one that has not witnessed or experienced the effects that systematic dehumanization and alienation can have on the body, mind and spirit. People who find themselves directly impacted,and those of us who walk with and behind, have also witnessed the inner strength and courage that goes beyond what a person’s status is and to the core of who people are.
Given the seriousness of the situation, we sought out friends and experts to spread the word about mental health awareness, and support. We are thankful to our friend Sonia Guinansaca at the New York State Youth Leadership Council, for her candid and heartfelt testimony. And we also spoke with Chicago-based social worker Jacqueline Luna, an ally who supports young people organizing via the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL) and the The National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA).