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Aftermath: rescued Chilean miners battle depression, stress

The men hailed as heroes a year ago are facing a very different reality today.  From the New York Times:

After his dramatic rescue from a mine last year, Jimmy Sánchez traveled the world, cruising the Greek islands, visiting Britain, Israel, Los Angeles, Disney World — all paid for by people who were moved by the Chilean miners’ story of courage and perseverance.

But today Mr. Sánchez, like many of the 33 miners who survived 69 days nearly a half-mile underground, is jobless and at wits’ end. Twice a month, he boards a bus to Santiago, Chile’s capital, traveling 11 hours each way for a short visit with a psychiatrist. He is one of nine miners receiving sick-leave pay for prolonged post-traumatic stress; a handful of others say they are seeing private therapists.

“Most of us are in the same place with emotional and psychological problems,” said Mr. Sánchez, 20. “It was the fear that we would never again see our families, that we were going to die. We just can’t shake those memories.”

One year after their globally televised rescue, after the worldwide spotlight faded and the trips and offers have dwindled, the miners say that most of them are unemployed and that many are poorer than before.

Only a handful of them have steady jobs, they say. Just four have returned to mining. Two others, Víctor Zamora and Darío Segovia, are trying to make ends meet by selling fruits and vegetables, one from a stall, the other out of his truck.

“They made us feel like heroes,” said Edison Peña, another miner, who is now in a psychiatric clinic. “In the end, we are selling peanuts. It’s ironic, isn’t it?”

Some miners have been paid to do interviews or give motivational speeches. But those opportunities proved fleeting for most. Now many are counting on a Hollywood movie about them — which still does not have a script — to be their economic savior.

Mr. Peña, the miner who became famous for his love of Elvis Presley and running, is coping with trauma caused not only by his time below but also by the aftermath of the rescue, when the demands of instant celebrity proved overwhelming, his doctor said, leading him to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Three miners, including Mr. Sánchez and Mr. Segovia, recently resumed psychiatric treatment after the nightmares and sleeplessness returned. Doctors said that they expected more of them to have a relapse, and that many now get by on a steady regimen of sedatives and antidepressants.

Read more.

Comments

  1. This story is sad, but it reflects the reality of sin in the world. When we put people in a pedestal we are bound to have them knocked down because their shortcomings as sinful creatures and our own sinful attitudes. That is the reality of life. But something good must come from all of this because God is always in control.

    My opinion is that this miners should have been put in counseling immediately after they left the mine and kept in a safe environment for a time. But they are all poor and a country like Chile does not have the resources to provide the type of disability insurance that we have in the U.S.

  2. The government there ought to give them some sort of stipend to get them through a few years until they can get sorted out. They also should do something like re-train them as mine safety inspectors. I can’t imagine they would be the sort of inspectors to look the other way for a few bucks.

  3. I thought it was interesting to see how one of the miners got caught on national t.v. when he got out of the hole with his wife, girlfriend, and mistress. That was hillarious, I wonder what happened to that man today and if he changed that type of life-style? lol…

  4. Brenda, I remember that little drama, and wondered how it turned out.
    My heart goes out to them, though. The memory of being buried alive would be so awful. I’m sure they do have nightmares. I don’t know how anyone could go back to mining after that.
    I was reading of experiments with a drug which could help prevent PTDS if given immediately after the event. Not sure it would be any help if the trauma dragged on for weeks like this did, however.
    Praying for these men and their families.

  5. Les Eversen says:

    @Rudy – Really? Sin? What has since got to do with this? These men weren’t put on a pedestal as you put it. The world took an interest in their ordeal, the extreme conditions of survival underground and a unlikely but welcome survival and rescue. A testing of their humanity. Why bring in the distortions of your religion when things can be explained far more simply in natural terms?

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