Gulf oil spill’s mental toll takes a solemn turn

In the carefree communities along the Gulf, some fear that depression and gloom will come along with the dark goo. Already, there has been a suicide linked to the spill.

Robert Samuels
Miami Herald
6/27/2010

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — The marina at Zeke’s Landing is now hallowed waters, a somber place shaken by the death of an experienced boat captain everyone called “Rookie.”

His namesake, a yellow 50-footer is still parked at station B-3, with three wreaths and a bouquet of dandelions on its deck. Friends laid them in honor of Allen “Rookie” Kruse, the 55-year-old charter fisherman who lost his livelihood, then took his life.

His death last week, the first known suicide related to the spill, gave this 11-mile hideaway the kind of attention it never would have wanted. It has become exhibit A for a problem that experts fear is moving faster than the oil slick: a mental toll that will lead to violence, depression and suicide.

Throughout the tar-stained Gulf, elected leaders are choking up at meetings and residents are losing sleep over whether the next sunrise will bring more tarballs.

The mayor of Bayou La Batre, Ala. has reported that calls of domestic violence there have tripled. In Chauvin, La., a man sits catatonic in front of CNN, while his friend planted a sign saying “Our Way of Life: It’s Oil Gone.”

“I don’t know what we can do,” said Mark Jones, Sr., an out-of-work shrimper. “Our heritage is being washed away.”

The article continues at the Miami Herald.

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