Another Bhutanese refugee kills himself; ripping people from their culture sometimes is inhumane

This story comes from Vermont.

I haven’t written about Bhutanese refugees in awhile. To date, we moved over 96,000 of the Nepali people (mostly Hindu, some Buddhists) who had been expelled from Bhutan to American towns and cities.

Go here for a post which gives a little of the background about the George W. Bush era plan to help the UN clean out its camps on the border of Nepal. It was supposed to be a joint effort with many other countries, but of course we took the vast majority of them.

We said we would take 60,000 beginning in 2007, but as is always the case, we go way beyond what we told the public we would do.

Here is where they were distributed in the US (from Wrapsnet):

Bhutanese numbers


Bhutanese numbers 2


We have also reported on many previous occasions about the exceedingly high suicide rate in the US Bhutanese ‘community.’

It is interesting to me that many do-gooders who push refugee resettlement to America never grasp that some people cannot make the cultural shift and that pushing resettlement can actually have deadly consequences, as it did for this man.

If you go back to my early posts (see archive) on the Bhutanese resettlement, you will see that the camp dwellers initially fought like hell to not be “scattered to the four winds.”

Note that he worked in a meat processing plant! Even in Vermont, refugees work in slaughterhouses! Why didn’t that make him happy?

From Seven Days:

Agencies Alarmed by Bhutanese Refugee Suicides

On the morning of April 10, Indra Mainali was running errands in preparation for his daughter’s birthday party when he received a frantic phone call from his wife. Indra’s father, Hari, had called her and said, “If you want to see me for the last time, come to Ethan Allen Homestead.”

Indra rushed home and contacted Rita Neopaney, a Bhutanese case manager at the Association of Africans Living in Vermont, who alerted the police.

When Indra arrived at the Burlington landmark, where Hari had established a garden plot the previous summer, an officer told him his father was dead. Asked how it happened, the officer replied, according to Indra, “He used a rope. We will know more after the postmortem.”


Bhutanese refugees resettled in the U.S. are twice as likely to die by suicide as members of the general population, according to a report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012. That report covered 16 deaths reported in 10 states between 2009 and 2012, none of which were in Vermont. But the local landscape has since changed.

bhutansa (1)
We had no strategic interest in the squabble between Bhutan and Nepal, it was simply a case of the UN telling us to jump and we did!

Hari, 52, was the second local Bhutanese refugee to die by suicide this year, according to members of that community, which numbers about 2,500.


Health providers and social support agencies that work with Bhutanese refugees are concerned about “what seems to be a growing trend,” said Friedman. “This is something all of us have a responsibility to be working on.”

The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement prompted the CDC to investigate suicides among ethnic-Nepali Bhutanese refugees after finding that, from 2009 to 2012, their estimated age-adjusted suicide rate was 24.4 per 100,000 people, nearly twice the rate in the general U.S. population. The CDC’s study pinpointed various possible motivations for the suicidal acts, including integration difficulties, family separation, lack of resettlement services and social support, and disappointment with career prospects. All of the suicides studied occurred within a year of arrival in the U.S., and only one of the deceased had ever talked with others about committing suicide.


By all accounts, Hari seemed to have adjusted to his new environment. He worked at a meat processing company, had a garden plot at the Ethan Allen Homestead in summer 2017 and spent his leisure time fishing. Still, he knew little English and lamented that he needed an interpreter for all of his appointments.

Even a government-funded garden plot didn’t help!

However, visit the story which takes a whack at policies in Washington that might have led to his inability to integrate.  More government money please!

Meanwhile, at the national level, the federal government is cutting funding for public and mental health services, and anti-immigrant rhetoric is increasingly prevalent. Under these conditions, providers worry about public insensitivity to the stresses that refugees face.

See my category ‘health issues’ where I have posted 349 previous posts on the topic of health, including mental health, of incoming refugees.

9 thoughts on “Another Bhutanese refugee kills himself; ripping people from their culture sometimes is inhumane

  1. I am not an expert but I think the Bhutanese nationals immigrating to the US are ethnic Nepalis, called Lhotshampa, and are probably Hindu.

    Bhutan’s Dark Secret: The Lhotshampa Expulsion

    The immigrants to the US may be the children of Nepali immigrants to Bhutan

    Many of the Bhutanese living in the United States, were actually ethnic minorities in Nepal.

    Being permited to enter Bhutan as a tourist is difficult and expensive. So the foreigners that go there are wealthy and influential, back in the US I think they lobby for immigration policies that suit Bhutan which is sending Nepalis to the US.


  2. Something to also take into account with the Bhutanese is the concept of shame. Issues such as depression and mental health are not appropriate to talk about in that culture, and so any depression etc will likely not be something they talk to their family members about. Committing suicide may be their way of saving face in the wake of mental illness, immense difficulties, or mistakes they believe would come back on their family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have you met any refugees in your community and heard their stories? You are an indirect refugee since your ancestors who first came here to escape religious, economic and ethnic persecution. America is a refugee/Immigrant country. rump is categorizing Muslims like Hiller did to the Jews. 99% Muslims are peaceful.Only problem community in numbers is Somalia-have you looked at the conditions of the Syrian camps and the famine in Yemen because of the proxy war between IRAN and Saudi Arabia? If you are Jewish or Christian both the old and new testament encourage helping the stranger. Fact: Mulim Burmese young man at 15,he spent 2 years in the peace Corp in Africa and is now a social worker in NYC. His brother graduated aeronautical university and is now a Marine officer with a 5 year commitment. Are we not benefited by them. Wake uo to the fact that we have a racist and sexist president who lies constantly and wishes to be a dictator. America is going down the drain with this buffoon. Research all is lies and iti BS about fake news. I hope you and others stand up to American values which including refugees. The president has no sense of compassion and only cares about his ego.What a sad state.i am a senior citizen and only 1968 approaches this morass.


      1. I’m in Australia, and there are no local refugees that I’m aware of. America – and Australia, for that matter – are a nation of LEGAL, PEACEFUL, NO-HIDDEN-AGENDA refugees. Muslims are rarely all three. Those that are are the exception, not the rule. The Koran COMMANDS Muslims to make war on the “infidels”, and commands them to KILL them, and to LIE about Islam to convince people to join. Those that do no do this are NOT real Muslims. Trump is not racist. He is absolutely right.


  3. i have been working with the Bhutanese in Atlanta since 2008. The suicide rate was also higher in the camps as well. We have taken 96,000 the number of suicides given the population while tragic is a tiny percentage and usually elders.I sent you information on the amazing success story of success stories of Bhutanese in academia which of course you will not publish since it is positive. I do not believe I have seen any stories about Bhutanese committing violent crimes-am I correct? Just in Atlanta we have 2 Gates scholarship winners, 2 with scholarships to Agnes Scott College and one on full scholarship to MIT. I would estimate at least 50 in Nursing School and 2 getting close to MD or DO status. I have probably worked with or met at least 50 families, While they alll long for Nepal since it is their culture ,they recognize how much better it is for their children here. The dream to go back to Bhutan is gone, There are problems with drinking and depression,however the agencies here tell me that they have been th easiest group to resettle as they ten to be very reserved and respectful There is a significant conversion to Christianity with over 10 Nepali churches. There are active Hindu,Buddhist and Kirat groups. We have lost about 20% of the population (around 6500 initially to Ohio because of the Medicaid Expansion there as well as a very important benefit for taking care of the elderly. We are now seeing a few families moving back here as most prefer Georgia because of a better climate and lower cost of living. The major centers now for the Bhutanese are Columbus, Pittsburgh,Houston and Atlanta

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As you say, I have not seen any violent crime stories involving the Bhutanese. But, that doesn’t mean that we should continue to bring refugees of any sort in in large numbers.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I think that is wonderful to see the success of these people, to be honest while I do think we need to help our own homeless & vets here, I also know that those who are wiling to integrate into our society are more likely to be successful. And I have said this time & time again, I have ZERO issues with immigration, nor taking in refugees, but what my problem has always been is that so many do not want to assimilate into American culture, so within America we have areas that are turning into areas exactly like what they left. The entire area becomes non-English speaking, with billboards, signs, businesses & this is what I do not like, because then it also becomes hostile to anyone not in that foreign culture.
      I love America & have met some wonderful people where I live that are refugees, my sisters was once engaged to a man whose family was from El Salvador (he passed away) but they LOVED AMERICA! His mother became a citizen, learned English & worked sometimes 3 jobs so she would never have to be on welfare. She once told me & my sister that we were so lucky to have been born in this great country & we should never take for granted the freedoms that we have. Sometimes I think we forget that..
      I have also heard of many refugees that do not want to leave their home countries, or they are promised they will get to go back one day. Maybe that is why many choose not to assimilate here, i don’t know. But one thing I do know is I also think it is important to hear successful stories of those who do well here. Does it mean that we should continue taking in thousands upon thousands? No, but what happens after President Trump leaves? I would rather be educated on those who are non-violent, and willing to work hard. We must know the whole truths, not just one side. Because a time could very well come again when a President decides to take in a lot of refugees, and I would rather know who is going to be a productive part of our society & who is not.


    3. Resettling people into other countries solves nothing for nobody. I would be more interested in learning about what has been done to alleviate the problems which cause people to become refugees in the first place. Why should refugees be brought into the USA while so many locals are suffering from homelessness, substance abuse, and unemployment? I have known relief workers in the past. The one topic that seems to be frequently mentioned is that resettlement volunteers seem to prefer bringing in refugees rather than helping homeless or substance addicted American locals. The reason mentioned is because the refugees kiss up to the resettlement agencies while I hear that locals are “rude.” Just curious, is this the reason why your agency brags about “helping people” from overseas? Not trying to be spiteful, but I feel that there should be a dialogue about why resettlement agencies do not seem to help local homeless or substance abusers from the USA. I also feel that refugees are actually going to complain less because they come from totalitarian countries and fear retaliation from the resettlement agencies or of getting sent back to where they came from.


Comments are closed.