Suicide in Greece: 2001–2011

Since 2008 several European countries have fallen into a financial crisis. This crisis has mainly affected the Greek population. The lower of income and the increase of unemployment as consequences of crisis lead to negative effects on people’s mental health. Usually, in periods of economic crisis there is an increase of suicidality of population. The aim of this study is to examine the changes of suicide rates in Greece during the last decade (2001–2011) with particular consideration in the recent period of economic crisis (2008–2011). Data regarding the greek general population and the crude data on suicides were obtained from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). We assessed the specific suicide rate, i.e. the number of suicide cases per 100.000 inhabitants (SSR) using population data on the 2001 and 2011 census. Yearly and mean total, age and sex-SSR were calculated in five years age groups. There were no suicide cases among children under the age of fifteen. We compared total and male, female SSR during the period before the crisis (2001–2007) and during the crisis (2008–2011). During the decade 2001–2011 a total number of 4133 suicide cases were recorded. There were 3423 (82.8%) male suicides and 710 (17.2%) female suicides. During the decade 2001–2011 total SSR increased by 38.4%. In males increased by 33.1% and in females by 69.6%. In the period before the crisis (2001–2007) total SSR decreased by 3.9%. In males decreased by 8.4% but in females increased by 22.3%. During the period of crisis (2008–2011) total SSR increased by 27.2%. In males increased by 26.9% and in females by 28.5%. There was a statistically significant increase in total SSR during the crisis regarding subjects 50–54 years old (t=3.43, p=0.007) and in total SSR of males (t=2.31, p=0.047) as well as of the males age groups 50–54 (t=3.56, p=0.006), 45–49 (t=2.87, p=0.02), 30–34 (t=2.96, p=0.02). There were no statistically significant differences both in total SSR and in SSR of all age groups of females during the crisis. The most often used method of suicide all the year of this study was by hanging. In absolute count the total suicide cases for the year 2011 in Greece were 477 (SSR=4.22) and the male suicides 393 (SSR=7.02) which are the highest number of suicides observed in Greece during the last decades. Findings suggest an increase in suicide mortality in Greece during the financial crisis. Reorientation of the goals of the national mental health system as well as targeted interventions should be applied in high risk individuals, i.e. unemployed, poor, suffering from mental or/and physical illnesses, in order to prevent or to mitigate the impact of the financial crisis in the greek population.

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V. Kontaxakis, Th. Papaslanis, B. Havaki-Kontaxaki, G. Tsouvelas, O. Giotakos, G.Ν. Papadimitriou