Suicides in Greece: a light at the end of the tunnelBMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6249 (Published 22 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6249
- George Michas, research associate1
The connection between death from suicide and the economic crisis in Greece has been intensely debated during the past two years.1 Fountoulakis and colleagues,2 in response to Arie,3 recently reported that data released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT; www.statistics.gr/) suggest a possible increase in suicides in Greece. The authors, however, suggested interpreting these data with caution.2
ELSTAT recently reported the suicide counts for 2012. The table⇓ shows suicide counts and suicide rates in Greece over the past 10 years. It aims to evaluate the effect of the financial crisis (2008-12) on suicide by comparing data for that period with those for the pre-crisis period (2003-07). The date set for the beginning of the financial crisis was based on changes in national gross domestic product and employment rate.
Over the 10 years assessed, the number of completed suicides ranged from 328 (in 2007) to 477 (in 2011). In 2012, the total suicides decreased steeply by 27.3% compared with 2011. The crude total number of incident suicides for the 10 years was 3823—3172 in males (83%) and 651 in females (17%). The crude number of suicides increased from 1858 in the pre-crisis period to 1965 in the crisis period, although the change in suicide mortality rate was not significant. This is because of opposing trends in males and females and younger and older populations. Suicides among males increased from 1510 to 1662, whereas in females they decreased from 348 to 303. Suicides increased greatly in males under 65 years of age (from 1086 to 1248), whereas they remained relatively stable in those 65 years and over (424 to 414). Suicides in females decreased slightly, both in those under 65 years (256 to 220) and those 65 years or more (92 to 83).
The 2012 victory is just one battle that has been won in the war against suicides. It is worrying that Greek men in their most productive years die by suicide. This is probably because unemployment and lack of money decrease men’s self esteem, making them more vulnerable to self destructiveness.1 The Greek government and the “Troika” should do their best to reverse this alarming situation.
Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6249
Competing interests: None declared.