The Tesla Cliff Crash is Yet Another Cry for Help

In January, Dharmesh Patel tried to kill himself and his family. The tragedy unveils glaring gaps in mental health resources for South Asian men.

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Dharmesh Patel with his wife Neha and two kids

Mehr Singh


June 5, 2023


9 min

“Love fall most of all,” reads the doormat outside the Patel family’s now-vacant Pasadena home. Neighbors described the young family as “idyllic,” “like newlyweds,” and “lovely people.” The neighbors remember the couple smiling and waving as they walked their children in strollers on their cul-de-sac. Last Christmas Eve, Dharmesh dropped off a plant at a neighbor’s as a present. “I’m Dharmesh,” he said, motioning to his immaculate white house. His matching, spotless white Tesla Model Y stood in front of a double-door garage.

But just days later on January 2, California Highway Patrol officers discovered the vehicle crumpled like foil at the bottom of a cliff. And while the rescue team couldn’t fathom how Dharmesh, 41; his wife, Neha, 41; and their two young children survived the crash, investigators suspected this was deliberate. In May, a California court charged Dharmesh Patel with three counts of attempted murder as part of a premeditated murder-suicide. 

South Asian Americans are some of the least likely groups to seek psychological help, despite one in five South Asians being likely to suffer from a mood disorder in their lifetimes. As South Asians are increasingly talking about mental health and seeking care, one group seems left behind: South Asian American men.

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