Fidel Castro’s eldest son ‘Fidelito’ commits suicide after battling deep depression
“I think that a man should not live beyond the age when he begins to deteriorate, when the flame that lighted the brightest moment of his life has weakened.”
These words from late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro possibly came true in the case of his own son, although in a tragic way. Cuban state-run media reported that Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, Castro’s eldest son, committed suicide on Feb. 1, 2018 after having undergone treatment for depression for several months. While Castro Diaz-Balart was initially hospitalized for his treatment, he later continued it as an outpatient. He was reportedly being attended to by a group of doctors for several months for deep depression.
Castro Diaz-Balart, 68, was also known as “Fidelitio”, or Little Fidel, due to the resemblance with his father. He was born during Castro’s short-lived first marriage to Mirta Diaz-Balart, the daughter of an important pre-revolution politician. At the time of his death, he was working as a scientific advisor to Cuba’s Council of State and also served as the vice president of Cuba’s Academy of Sciences.
Fidelito was a nuclear physicist who studied in the former Soviet Union. From 1980 to 1992, he led Cuba’s nuclear program and spearheaded the development of a nuclear plant before being fired by his father. The nuclear program was also suspended following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Castro Diaz-Balart largely disappeared from public view, except for occasional appearances at scientific or diplomatic conferences.
“Seemed a bit weary about having to be a Castro”
Paul Webster Hare, a former British ambassador to Cuba and currently teaching international relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Business at the Boston University, said that Castro Diaz-Balart was curious about the world beyond Cuba. “But he seemed a bit weary about having to be a Castro, rather than himself,” Hare added.
According to Jonathan C. Benjamin-Alvarado, professor at the University of Nebraska in Omaha and a Cuba expert, Castro Diaz-Balart’s title of scientific advisor seemed ceremonial. Although he had written extensively on Cuba’s need for developing renewable energy resources, none of his opinions was included in the Cuban national policy, which continued advocating oil dependency. “I imagine that was disappointing for him,” said Benjamin-Alvarado.
His suicide is not an isolated incident. People in public life often end up disregarding their children, which causes them to suffer from mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Brian Joseph Lenihan, former Minister of Finance of Ireland, struggled to support his son – who suffered from depression – while navigating his country through an enormous economic crisis. “It broke his heart that he couldn’t spend more time with me,” said his son Tom Lenihan, who battled suicidal thoughts from the age of 13.
The last few years have also seen a string of suicides by children of celebrities. Psychiatrists explain that since celebrities are more focused on themselves and their careers, children are largely ignored. Teens, particularly, struggle to find an identity for themselves which equals that of their famous parent(s). Higher rates of celebrity divorces and custody battles also cause depression in children. As a child, Castro Diaz-Balart had also been the subject of a custody battle between his parents’ families.
Untreated depression and suicide
Suicide is the tenth-leading cause of death among American adults and the second-leading cause of death among people aged 10-24. Although no single cause can be attributed to suicide, depression is the most commonly associated condition, and it often remains undiagnosed or untreated.
In 2016, 16.2 million American adults aged 18 or older (6.7 percent) had a past-year major depressive episode (MDE), and 10.3 million adults (4.3 percent) had an MDE with severe impairments. During the same period, 3.1 million adolescents aged 12-17 (12.8 percent) had an MDE, and 2.2 million adolescents (9 percent) had an MDE with severe impairment. Of these, 40.9 percent adolescents and 65.3 percent adults received treatment for depression.
Untreated depression can be a gateway to suicide. If you or a loved one is battling depression or other mental illnesses, contact the Recover Mental Health. Our representatives can connect you with the best depression treatment centers in your vicinity. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-593-2339 or chat online with one of our experts to know more about evidence-based programs for depression treatment.