Painful austerity measures, business failures, and years of recession have led to a startling increase in suicide rates in several European countries—so many that media outlets have dubbed these acts "economic suicides." Particularly affected by the spike in suicides, a trend that began in 2008, are Greece, Ireland, and Italy, according to an article published online in today's Washington Post. In Greece, which has the most dramatic rise in suicides, the Ministry of Health documented a 40% increase in the first half of 2011 compared with the prior year. Surveys by European health agencies also point to increased use of antidepressants over the last few years. They also report an increase in use of illicit drugs over the last few years. Further contributing to the continent's economic problems are lost productivity due to workers' depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. The Post article notes that "public-health groups and trade unions are warning that mental health problems are reaching a crisis point and the the situation is going to get worse" as austerity measures take an even greater toll on people's lives as the economic crisis reaches its fourth year. Of course, this mental health crisis is unfolding in conjunction with severe cutbacks in publicly funded treatment services, with several community treatment facilities having shut their doors.
To read more about the link between economic conditions and suicide, see a report in Psychiatric News.
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