Greek Crisis Exacts the Cruelest Toll.
'Two years into Greece's debt crisis, its citizens are reeling from austerity measures imposed to prevent a government debt default that could cause havoc throughout Europe.' 'The most dramatic sign of Greece's pain, however, is a surge in suicides.' 'Recorded suicides have roughly doubled since before the crisis to about six per 100,000 residents annually, according to the Greek health ministry and a charitable organization called Klimaka. About 40% more Greeks killed themselves in the first five months of this year than in the same period last year, the health ministry says.'
'Suicide has also risen in much of the rest of Europe since the financial crisis began, according to a recent study published in the British medical journal The Lancet, which said Greece is among the hardest hit.
While some countries have higher rates of recorded suicides, including the U.S.'s over 10 per 100,000, mental-health professionals here say Greece's data greatly understate the incidence of suicide because it carries a strong stigma among Greeks. The Greek Orthodox Church forbids funeral services for suicides unless the deceased was mentally ill. Families often mask suicide deaths as accidents.
A suicide help line at Klimaka, the charitable group, used to get four to 10 calls a day, but "now there are days when we have up to 100," says a psychologist there, Aris Violatzis.'
'Mr. Petrakis collected his hunting rifle from home and wrote farewell notes over four pages of an old calendar. The banks had destroyed him, he wrote, and he had lost his honor over the check affair. He warned that others on Crete would suffer his fate.
"Please forgive me," he wrote. "I love you very much."
At 5 a.m., Mrs. Petrakis heard her husband's dog whimpering in an olive grove by the field where he kept his animals and used to go for peace of mind.
In the dark, she tripped over him beneath an olive tree. He was still alive but, with a gunshot wound in his head, could no longer speak. He died in her arms.'