25 June 2015
20,000 Greeks were rendered homeless within the first two years of the country’s austerity measures.
| Photo: Reuters
Austerity measures have created job losses and economic insecurity, devastating some individuals.
Yet another study has found that suicides in Greece increased by 35 percent during the first two years that strict austerity measures were imposed on the country, according to media reports this week.
“Our main finding was that after 2010, when harsh austerity measures were implemented in Greece, we noted a significant increase in suicide rates for the years 2011 and 2012 in comparison to the period between 2003 and 2010,” University of Thessaly Professor George Rachiotis told Medscape Medical News Tuesday. “In addition, we found that there was a significant correlation between suicide rates with an increase in unemployment in Greece, where unemployment has almost doubled [since 2009] and is now approaching 30 percent,” he added.
Working-aged men affected the most
The University of Thessaly was one of the research bodies behind the recent study, which was published in the British Medical Journal in March. The group most affected by the austerity measures were working-aged men between 20 and 59 years of age, where the suicide rate increased from 6.56 to 8.81 per 100,000 population in 2011- 2012 – according to the study that was conducted jointly with the University of Oxford, the European Center on Health of Societies in Transition, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as well as the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.
Suicides also increased for women, however not as markedly as that for men, researchers found. Greece was forced by the European Commission, the European Monetary Fund and the International Monetary Fund to implement severe austerity measures in 2010. These included cuts to pensions and public sector jobs and salaries, as well as increases to indirect taxes and to privatize state-owned industries, the study explained.
Increase in the number of suicides of people over 65
The result was that by 2012, 20,000 Greeks had been rendered homeless, 20 percent of shops in the historic center of Athens were shuttered, and about one in 10 citizens of greater Athens was visiting a soup kitchen on a daily basis, added the study. Researchers also found an increase in the number of suicides of people over 65, noting the particular difficulty for those who were retired, or soon to be retired, and saw their pensions reduce significantly.
Austerity heightens suicide risks directly by creating job losses, especially among public sector workers
“Austerity heightens suicide risks directly by creating job losses, especially among public sector workers, and by increasing economic insecurity,” said Dr Rachiotis in the final report. This is the second major study to find that life under austerity can be devastating. In February, the BMJ published a similar report after research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, Edinburgh University and Greek health authorities also found that suicide in Greece had increased by 35 percent during the same time period.
Source: Suicides in Greece Increased by 35% During Austerity TeleSUR