Austerity caused thousands of Greek suicides

This video from Greece says about itself:

Greek couple stage suicide threat in jobs protest

15 February 2012

A Greek couple fearing for their jobs threatened to commit suicide by jumping from the window ledge of their office in Athens.

Both are now safe: the husband was first persuaded to come down but the wife remained for about five hours before going back into the building.

They work for a state owned housing company under threat of closure.

Underlining the plight of many people in the country, they said their pay had been cut and they had debts and a mortgage they couldn’t pay.

Other employees have also staged a sit-in protest.

As the 500 figure named in the article below here does not count women’s suicides because of austerity, and is only about 2009-2010, while the worst austerity measures in Greece came after 2010, one can safely estimate that the austerity policies of the European Union, European Central Bank and IMF caused thousands of suicides in Greece.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Austerity in Greece caused more than 500 male suicides, say researchers

Study finds clear link between spending cuts and rise in number of men who killed themselves between 2009 and 2010

Spending cuts in Greece caused a rise in male suicides, according to research that attempts to highlight the health costs of austerity.

Echoing official statistics in the UK showing suicide rates are still higher than before the crisis, researchers at the University of Portsmouth have found a correlation between spending cuts and suicides in Greece.

According to the research, every 1% fall in government spending in Greece led to a 0.43% rise in suicides among men. In other words, after controlling for other characteristics that might lead to suicide, 551 men killed themselves “solely because of fiscal austerity” between 2009 and 2010, said the paper’s co-author Nikolaos Antonakakis.

“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,” he added.

Antonakakis, a senior lecturer in economics and finance, and himself a Greek national, said he had been prompted to look into a potential link between austerity and suicide rates after media stories and reports of friends of friends dying from suicide.

Although there had been studies into the health effects of negative economic growth, there was a gap when it came specifically to spending cuts and health, he said.

Antonakakis and his co-author, the economics professor Alan Collins, said they were surprised at how many suicides appeared linked to austerity and how clear the connection was.

There was also a clear gender divide in the effects of austerity with no obvious rise in female suicide rates, according to the research published in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

Men aged 45-89 faced the highest suicide risk in response to austerity because they were most likely to suffer cuts to their salaries and pensions, the research said.

Antonakakis and Collins are considering work on the link between austerity and suicide rates in other eurozone countries most affected by the crisis, such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland. In the meantime, they are urging policymakers to put more weight on the health costs of spending cuts.

“These findings have strong implications for policymakers and for health agencies,” said Antonakakis. “We often talk about the fiscal multiplier effect of austerity, such as what it does to GDP. But what is the health multiplier?

We have to consider the health multipliers of any fiscal consolidation and austerity. The fact we find gender specificity and age specificity can help health agencies target their help.”

The research is not the first to claim that cutbacks have cost lives. Last year, the political economist David Stuckler and the physician-epidemiologist Sanjay Basu pointed to soaring suicide rates, rising HIV infections and even a malaria outbreak. But in their book, The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills, they argued that such costs were by no means inevitable and that in some countries countermeasures such as active labour market schemes had softened the blow from cuts.

In Greece, however, HIV infection rose by more than 200% since 2011 as prevention budgets were cut, and intravenous drug use grew amid 50% youth unemployment. Greece also experienced its first malaria outbreak in decades after budget cuts to mosquito-spraying, the authors said.

In the UK, official statistics released in February showed that suicide rates for 2012 had changed little from 2011 but remained significantly higher than five years earlier.

The Samaritans charity said that despite the economic recovery many people were still very worried about money, jobs and housing, and that one in six calls to its service were about financial worries. That compares with one in 10 in 2008.

Its research has shown that disadvantaged men in mid-life are at higher risk of suicide. Men in the lowest socio-economic group living in the most deprived areas are approximately 10 times more likely to die by suicide than men from higher socio-economic backgrounds, living in the most affluent areas.

Responding to the research on Greece, a Samaritans spokesman said: “There is a well established link between unemployment and suicide, which tends to increase during economic recession, particularly where it’s not offset by welfare safety nets.

“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.

“As the nation’s listening ear, we’d like to remind people struggling to cope that we will continue to be here for anybody who needs someone to listen to them.”

• The Samaritans helpline is 08457 90 90 90 in the UK and can be emailed

Britain: In times of high unemployment more young people kill themselves. It’s no time to cut budgets, says STEVEN WALKER: here.

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