(NewsNation) — A Texas National Guard soldier in Eagle Pass died by suicide this week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday.
“I ask all Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for the soldier’s family during this heartbreaking time,” Abbott said. “And for any Texan who is in crisis, we urge you to seek help immediately from a family member, loved one, or a mental health service.”
Abbott did not specify which mission the soldier was part of. However, the Texas Tribune and the Military Times reported the soldier was assigned to Operation Lone Star, Abbott’s border security intitiative launched in March 2021.
The suicide would be the first suspected suicide linked to Operation Lone Star since December 2021 and the fifth suspected suicide since the mission began, according to the Texas Tribune.
Amid a record surge in the number of undocumented migrants entering the United States, the task of securing the southern border has become especially demanding on law enforcement.
During the Texas gubernatorial debate Friday, Abbott defended Operation Lone Star and touted it as a success.
“What we’re doing is making sure that we are keeping our community safe,” Abbott said.
The operation has to led to the seizure of enough fentanyl to kill the entire population of the United States — more than 12,300 pounds worth since October 2021.
Border authorities have also cracked down on human smuggling, which they say has become more common recently. On Tuesday night, authorities arrested two smugglers near Del Rio, Texas who were caught moving seven undocumented Mexican nationals to Houston.
Last week, a migrant-smuggling effort turned deadly for a 17-year-old girl from Austin, who was killed in an accident after trying to evade authorities.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke says he’s in favor of keeping resources at the border but would do things differently.
At last week’s debate, he cited the strain Guardsmen face when they have to uproot their lives on short notice to head south.
“What we need are solutions — not more stunts — where we can have a strategic deployment on a voluntary basis for Guard members,” O’Rourke said.
In April, a Texas National Guard member drowned while attempting to save a migrant in the Rio Grande River.
Border Patrol agents see danger firsthand, as well.
On Tuesday, federal border authorities were involved in a shooting at a station near El Paso. One migrant who was being detained there was shot and later died.
The Mexican consulate said this happened after his previous criminal record was uncovered by agents.
Law enforcement officials say no border community has been spared by the recent influx of migrants.
“Whether it’s in San Diego, Arizona, New Mexico or Texas, it’s become a lot more volatile now,” said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a labor union that represents border agents.