Greece is dying – Suicides are skyrocketing
By Kosmas Loumakis
The number of suicides are skyrocketing in Greece. The Greek people have undoubtedly been hit very hard by the austerity cuts which have led to the fact that far too many, compared with just two years ago, take their lives.
Greece used to have the lowest recorded suicide rates in Europe. However, from spring 2010 there has been a very worrying rise in figures of people taking their own lives.
My sun-kissed motherland with once the lowest recorded suicide rates in Europe, have seen a huge rise in suicides. The first 6 months of this year we saw a surge in the number of suicides among the poor and those older than 65. It has risen by more than 37 percent against the same period for 2011 – 1 400 people have taken their lives since January 1.
More than 3 400 people have taken their own lives since 2010. ‘This is the number for confirmed suicides. Psychiatrist think the real number is much higher (apx 5 000 people). That is one and a half times a 9/11 attack and we all know what grief that brought to all of the 300 million Americans. What grief do you think that all of us Greeks, 11 millions, feel when 5 000 of our fellow country men and women have ‘been killed’ by financial Terrorism?
Greece, that has been led with a leash to its death (controlled bankruptcy), saw 60 deaths and a further 420 suicide attempts in the capital Athens in June alone. Numbers of dead are rising across the country for more reasons than suicides. Many of the poor, old people are nowadays forced to choose between eating or buying their medicines, so many die from not being able to afford their necessary medicines. The average age in Greece has been reduced with 10 years in only two years.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is since taking office, striving to assure the EU/IMF he will honour a pledge for more austerity. This Wednesday the coalition voted through the new Memorandum which promises harder cuts and in fact a complete sellout of the country’s wealth and assets but also its sovereignty and independence. The bulk of the cuts will come from state salaries and pensions, and up to 60,000 public sector firings, further angering an austerity-weary public that openly and frequently has been protesting on the streets for almost three years now.
Mr Samaras said: ‘We’re all having a difficult time’, and only that sentence from his mouth is actually received as if he is mocking and humiliating the suffering Greeks.
Before the financial crisis began, Greece had the lowest suicide rate in Europe at 2.8 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to Eurostat (ca 280 people per year).
Deaths like that of a 77-year-old pharmacist who shot himself to death on Syntagma Square in downtown Athens in April, and Dimitris Christoulas, who blew his brains out at the same place in the same month, have captured headlines and stoked fears among experts that much worse is to come. Last year, Apostolos Polyzonis, 55, out of work and out of money set fire to himself in the middle of the street…
A note written in red letters on a piece of cardboard are pinned on a memorial to Christoulas in Athens.
It says: ‘The government has annihilated all traces for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone paid into for 35 years with no help from the state.
‘I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life so that I don’t find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance.
‘I believe that young people with no future will one day take up arms and hang the traitors of this country on Syntagma Square.’
The newspaper Ta Nea describes the mood among Greeks as a ‘society on the verge of a nervous breakdown. That is true if one think that it only is the economic reasons that torment the Greeks… but its not. It is also for the national reasons of the country’s independence and sovereignty that some Greeks can’t stand the humiliation. To most of us it is a catastrophe to loose our land that has been won piece by piece and with a lot of bloodshed from soldiers and civilians, women, men and children. When some people understands that millions of Greeks died in heroic battles and wars, so a few dark suits with iPads could come from Brussels and Berlin and just claim the country because of a fictive debt, they can’t stand it anymore. I would say that the Greek society is not on the verge to a nervous breakdown anymore, its beyond that. It is actually heading with furious steps towards a full scale revolution, because the young ones have had enough with having their parents and grandparents committing suicide and their small brothers and sisters feinting at school from malnourishment. They have had it with watching their friends and relatives migrate to USA, Central-Europe or Australia. It is the fourth time in the last 100 years that Greeks are forced to migrate on a large scale.
Berlin insists that Athens honour its pledges and that attitude, make more and more Greeks interpret the current situation as a proper occupation by foreign powers, and that is what it actually is about right now and no one in the European media want to call it by its name.
Now however, it is not possible to cut anymore, the knife has reached the haggard white bone of the exhausted Greek citizen! It is boiling in Athens right now and throughout the rest of Greece… A very deep anger begins to show also on previous calm faces. The Greek society is about to explode and not in any, by the State ‘controlled’ way, as both this Greek government and the EU would prefer, but out of anyone’s control and without any warning.