Study: Austerity driving Greeks to commit suicide

Depressed and broke. Athens, September 2011. [Mehran Khalili/Flickr]

A direct link ties government austerity measures to a sharp rise in male suicides, according to research carried out at the University of Portsmouth.

Researchers say that for every 1% decline in government spending in Greece, there was a 0.43% rise in suicides among men. Between 2009 and 2010, 551 Greek men killed themselves "solely because of fiscal austerity", one of the co-authors of the study, Nikolaos Antonakakis told The Guardian.

"That is almost one person per day. Given that in 2010 there were around two suicides in Greece per day, it appears 50% were due to austerity," Antonakakis said.

Economist Alan Collins, a co-author of the report, said that there is a clear gender divide, as there hasn't been an obvious rise in female suicides. Men aged 45-89 face the highest suicide risk due to austerity,  as they are more likely to suffer cuts to their salaries and pensions.

Other consequences of austerity in Greece include a 200% rise in HIV infections since 2011, as prevention budgets have been cut, and drug use has grown, with the youth unemployment rate reaching 50%. The southern European country has also experienced its first malaria outbreak in decades, after the government cut the budget for mosquito-spraying.

Charity organisation the Samaritans said in a statement that there is a clear link between unemployment and suicide, which tends to increase during recession.

"The fact that disadvantaged people have shorter lives, live with physical and mental health problems, and are more likely to die by suicide, are inequities that demand a response by services such as Samaritans," they said.

There were 508 suicides in Greece in 2012, according to figures published last month by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). This represented a rise of 36 percent since 2008, before the country’s economic crisis began.

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evad666's picture

Lots of big yachts in Greek Harbours, so I guess they are owned by Franco German individuals. Greece needs to pull out of the EU and ditch the Euro.

Gerry's picture

There is plenty of money in Greece to solve everyone's problems. There is enough business expertise to provide everyone with jobs. There is enough accumulated wealth to provide everybody with a future. Unfortunately all this is in the hands of an elite that has no intentions of sharing it with anyone, and whose every efforts are firmly directed at further enriching themselves. Until we learn to take control over this elite this situation will continue to worsen, and blaming others will only play into their hand. The real problem is that nobody can progress until the lessons from the past have been learned, and the consequences of past mistakes have been mitigated. And there are so many of them.

Karenin's picture

Of course, there are rich people in Greece ; but taking from the rich and giving to the poor is a communist non-solution. As per in any democratic and capitalist european country, there must be a solution to keep up a minimum decency for the poor (i.e. vast majority) of the population, without discouraging the rich and entrepreneurial sectors to stay in the country. Lending money to the Greek State, thus increasing its indebtedness and refusing inflation are just 2 of the many factors that lead to the current situation.