The harsh austerity measures imposed on Greece by its EU creditors led to the major spike in suicides in the country during the peak of its crisis in 2011 and 2012, a survey by the UK’s leading medical magazine said.
“The introduction of austerity measures [in Greece] in June 2011 marked the start of a significant, sharp, and sustained increase in suicides, to reach a peak in 2012,” the report by BMJ Open said.
The scientists, who analyzed data gathered by the Hellenic Statistical Authority from over the past 30 years, said that a total of 11,505 Greeks took their own lives – 9,079 men and 2,426 women – from 1983 to 2012.
The number of total suicides rose by over 35 per cent in June 2011 when the austerity measures were introduced, leading to violent protests and strikes, the research said. The number of people taking their lives was rising until the end of the year and continued into 2012, it added.
On average, an extra 11.2 suicides occurred every month in Greece, which is described in the paper as a country which historically had “one of the lowest suicide rates in the world.”
“The maximum number of monthly reported suicides that occurred over the 30-year study period was 64 in July 2012, followed by 62 in May 2012,” the report said.
There was another spike in April 2012, after a retired pharmacist, Dimitris Christoulas, shot himself outside the Greek Parliament. The intense media coverage of an act undertaken by a desperate man, who blamed governmental austerity policies for the decision to take own life, might have provoked the so-called ‘suicide contagion’, the survey said.
The study revealed that men, who remain Greece’s top earners, were more heavily affected by austerity than women; suicide rates among males began rising in 2008 when the recession began. It increased by over 13 per cent in 2010 and rose by an extra 18.5 per cent (5.2 suicides) every month, starting from June 2011.
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