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Suicide Rate Spikes In Greece Because of Economy

  • by
  • September 22, 2011
  • 9:00 pm
Suicide Rate Spikes In Greece Because of Economy

With all of the dry numbers of economics, it is often easy to forget that bad news — be it job numbers, the stock market, or credit crunches — means that someone out there is much worse off today than they were yesterday. Unfortunately, a startling story from Greece is reminding all of us about the human toll that economic downturns can take: suicide rates have been soaring in the Mediterranean country since the debt crisis began in 2009.

The Wall Street Journal Reports: “Recorded suicides have roughly doubled since before the crisis to about six per 100,000 residents annually, according to the Greek health ministry and a charitable organization called Klimaka… About 40% more Greeks killed themselves in the first five months of this year than in the same period last year, the health ministry says.”

Even though unemployment and suicide rates are correlated throughout Europe, Greece has been especially hard hit from the economic crisis. Beyond the 90% chance that the country will default on its debt, gross domestic product is expected to shrink by one fifth this year, further inflating the already catastrophically high 16% employment rate. In human terms, this means that millions of people are jobless — with little hope of finding a job soon or having temporary help from the austerity-minded government.

Because of these stark economic conditions, over 25% of all Greek suicides are now attributed to economic reasons. Suicide prevention hotlines are being swamped by more than ten times as many calls as they used to, predominantly with people who have lost everything in the crisis.

As the current American Congressional budget Super Committee seriously mulls a path of austerity for American government programs, they should consider what has happened in Greece since austerity measures have been implemented. When unemployment benefits or public jobs get cut, that means that hardworking families are going to have an even harder time scraping by. In Greece, those monetary losses unfortunately became all too tangible; hopefully American lawmakers will be compassionate in how they address American debt problems.

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Photo credit: Aster-oid's Flickr stream.

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12:14PM PDT on Oct 12, 2011

Sorry but no one is considering our war veterans coming home to a jobless economy.
Not someone that put them selves in this spoiled selfish overspending position of choice.
This reminds me of the people that refinanced their credit cards and got home equity loans and bought new cars then went bankrupt putting their B.M.W. in a son's or daughters name.
I only feel sorry for the very old, sick & disabled.
Most all the rest of you got what you deserved.
I guess gold chain sales are down a lot.
Everywhere people are suffering but the worse is where they over did it and why should others pay for your extravagances.

11:46AM PDT on Sep 27, 2011

@Christine: You are not alone. Greek just happened to be more resilient than most other nations. You guys make noise and protest and don't go back in your houses when told by the government or brainwashed by the media.

OTHERWISE, the whole world is in the same boat and everyone should learn from Greeks on how to handle this. The mistake we all made is electing the wrong people for government. What good is a democracy when we can't even elect people who have the good of the people in their heart?

1:47AM PDT on Sep 27, 2011

i agree that this poll question is ridiculous. forget improving suicide rates if they can't sort out the debt problem. the govt needs to do more to support the poorest people, taking money out of their own pockets and those of their fat wealthy friends. it makes me sick to think that the worst off people to start with have to bear the real brunt of this economic crisis.

3:04PM PDT on Sep 26, 2011

Thank you for posting - I live in Greece and hadn't seen or heard about this (even though the news is already old- from 30th June). BUT -sorry to say it- I find the poll question enormously stupid ... Isn't obvious that the only thing that would help (suicide lines already being loaded) an improvement in the economy?? Isn't it OBVIOUS that that is what EVERYBODY is fussing (and - according to good Greek tradition- disagreeing) about ??? And let's assume that CARE-followers vote that YES, the Greek government should do something about it, does ANYBODY believe that ANYBODY is going to pay any attention to that ?? Thanks fior caring though, things are getting really tough here ... (if you want to help: come to Greece, buy Greek products, buy a government bond ....)

3:01PM PDT on Sep 26, 2011

Thank you for posting - I live in Greece and hadn't seen or heard about this (even though the news is already old- from 30th June). BUT -sorry to say it- I find the poll question enormously stupid ... Isn't obvious that the only thing that would help (suicide lines already being loaded) an improvement in the economy?? Isn't it OBVIOUS that that is what EVERYBODY is fussing (and - according to good Greek tradition- disagreeing) about ??? And let's assume that CARE-followers vote that YES, the Greek government should do something about it, does ANYBODY believe that ANYBODY is going to pay any attention to that ?? Thanks fior caring though, things are getting really tough here ... (if you want to help: come to Greece, buy Greek products, buy a government bond ....)

4:15AM PDT on Sep 26, 2011

This is so sad and it's happening everywhere.

5:34PM PDT on Sep 25, 2011

The whole world is in a big mess...!

12:32AM PDT on Sep 25, 2011

Thanks for the article.

11:48AM PDT on Sep 24, 2011

American, mostly TeaPublican't, "lawmakers" aiming to slash spending don't give a damn about Greece. They will note it but not be guided by it. The "conservatives" are so deluded about American exceptionalism that it's almost inconceivable to them that we could have such a social calamity here. But--we already have a calamity. Millions of homes underwater and 10% unemployment is a calamity. So ask yourself: to date, how many folks who perpetrated the cosmic-scale fraud have been indicted, much less taken a vacation inside a place with bars? The Obama justice department may be scaling up to that, slowly, so as not to alienate potential '12 donors, but for two years or more We the People have wanted to see these geniuses hauled before the court to explain their toxic bull**** fraud. If the powers that be saw Greece as a model, they would show some real compassion for people who go destitute. That starts with social justice. HAVE YOU SEEN ANY? No -- but you certainly hear a lot of insensitive, ideologically impaired and virtually obscene rhetoric about no new taxes and lies about bankrupt Social Security and know-it-alls who can't articulate one sensible go***mn sentence about how we got into this mess. And nothing AT ALL about how U.S./Western bankers brought Greece to its mess, either.

10:13AM PDT on Sep 24, 2011

there is no reason to commit suicide because of a bad economy, it's so very sad that modern day people can't live unless they have money. What we need to do is learn how to live off the land. Then we can grow our own foods, we dont have to buy foods and money won't be an issue because you already have a house, you have food, live near a creek or river and you have water your basic necessity, all for the small price of a little bit of personal labor

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