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.

61 comments

W. C
W. C10 days ago

Thanks for the information.

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William C
William C11 days ago

Thank you for caring.

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pete M.
peter m6 years ago

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.

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Better World
Raheel Chaudhry6 years ago

@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?

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amy gould
amy gould6 years ago

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.

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Christine K.
Christine K.6 years ago

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 ....)

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Christine K.
Christine K.6 years ago

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 ....)

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mary l.
mary l6 years ago

This is so sad and it's happening everywhere.

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Leslie W.
L W6 years ago

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

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K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

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