Suicide rates have been rising in Greece since the start of the economic crisis, according to statements to AMNA made by the head of ‘Climax Plus’, a suicide helpline operating under the auspices of the health and social solidarity ministry, on Saturday.
September 10 has been established as ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’ by the WHO.
Psychiatrist Kyriakos Katsadoros said that calls to the 24-hour 1018 helpline ‘Intervention for Suicide’ have more than doubled in 2011 compared to the previous year, with one in four callers reporting serious financial difficulties.
He said this confirmed that the economic crisis was creating a vicious circle of problems and was one of the factors that had a negative impact on the mental health of individuals.
Katsadoros said the helpline had received roughly 2,500 calls throughout 2010 while calls in the first eight months of 2011 had already exceeded 5,000.
“The alarming factor is not just the huge increase in the number of calls but also the fact that the reasons why people seek help have changed. In 2008 and 2009, most callers suffered from pscyhological problems. Those who now call us have financial difficulties and are at a dead end,” he said.
According to an announcement by the WHO, the economic crisis and the insecurity this causes could lead to an increase in suicides, which are more frequent among the unemployed than those in work.
A person without work is two to three times more likely to kill themselves than someone in work, while an increase in unemployment by 3 percent is linked to a 4.5 percent increase in suicides in the general population.
Greece traditionally ranks low in European rankings for suicide rates, with the Hellenic Statistical Authority recording 4,042 deaths due to suicide from 1999-2009. Of these, 3,288 were men and 754 were women.
In recent years, however, the rate of suicide in the country has been tending to increase. For example, there were 393 suicides (333 men and 58 women) in 2009, up from 328 suicides (268 men and 60 women) in 2007. There are no statistics for non-fatal suicide attempts, which are estimated to be 10 to 20 times as many.
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