« 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. »