Rate of suicides has ‘doubled’

The past few months have seen a sharp rise in the number of people taking their own lives, according to a nongovernmental organization that runs a helpline for those considering suicide. According to Aris Violatzis of the NGO Klimaka, the number of suicides «have doubled if not tripled» over the past year. Violatzis said the rate had increased to more than two suicides per day this year, as compared to one per day in 2009. And these are just the suicides that are recorded, Violatzis said, adding that the real number was likely to be higher as the stigma attached to suicide means they are often not reported. Klimaka, which operates the 1018 telephone helpline, said it was receiving around 25 calls a day, compared to an average of 10 per day last year. Asked whether the spike in suicides was linked to the financial crisis, Violatzis said he believed it was a contributing factor. «Suicide is a multifaceted phenomenon – we cannot link it exclusively to the crisis,» he said, noting however that the environment influences our actions. As for the profile of most victims, Klimaka said they are chiefly «productive people with responsibilities, financial obligations, families, loans.» According to Violatzis, many of the victims are «men who are no longer earning enough money to provide for their families and feel they no longer have a role to play – people who are going through an identity crisis.» There are also many who take their lives due to deep-seated psychological problems or depression, he added. In a related development, the refusal of the bishop of Kozani to allow a local woman who committed suicide to be buried by the village priest, in accordance with Orthodox tradition, has provoked anger and debate. The woman, who had reportedly been depressed since her son’s death earlier this year, drowned last Friday after jumping into Polyfytos Lake. The parish priest from her village refused to lead a procession of mourners transferring her body from her home to the local cemetery but conducted a service over her grave after the funeral.