In a disturbing new report confirming “The impact of economic austerity and prosperity events on suicide in Greece,” tough financial austerity measures in Greece have led to a 35% jump in suicide rates in a little less than 2 years.
As KeepTalkingGreece reports, George Rachiotis notes this surge in suicides (especially among men) mirrors a very similar increase in suicide rates from 1989-1994 in Russian men when the so-called “shock therapy” programs were being implemented.
Correlation is not causation, but… (please note when we use the word “austerity” we mean in the “we can’t spend seriously crazy amounts of money even if we don’t have it” way… which, translated, means “living within your means – no longer funded by insurmountable debt.”)
Findings from Dr Rachiotis’ study are alarming enough, but they have been corroborated by a number of other studies, including a study by Charles C. Branas, MD, and colleagues that was published February 2, 2015, in BMJ Open.
Having tracked the suicide rate in Greece for more than 30 years, Dr Branas and coworkers found that the highest monthly rates of suicide in Greece occurred in 2012.
“The passage of new austerity measures in June 2011 marked the beginning of significant, abrupt and sustained increases in total suicides (+35.7%) and male suicides (+18.5%),” the investigators write.
Suicides among men in Greece also underwent a significant, abrupt, and sustained increase in October 2008, when the Greek recession began along with an abrupt albeit temporary increase in suicides in April 2012, when a pharmacist publicly shot himself to protest the austerity measures.
Our analysis points to a significant increase in suicides following austerity-related events in Greece.
As future austerity measures are considered, greater weight should be given to the unintended mental health consequences of these measures.