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BMJ Open 5:e005619 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005619
  • Health policy
    • Research

The impact of economic austerity and prosperity events on suicide in Greece: a 30-year interrupted time-series analysis

Press Release
  1. Douglas J Wiebe1
  1. 1University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
  2. 2Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Iraklion, Greece
  3. 3Hellenic Statistical Authority, Piraeus, Greece
  4. 4Edinburgh Unit for Forensic Anthropology, SHCA, University of Edinburgh, UK
  5. 5WHO National Counterpart for Mental Health, Athens, Greece
  1. Correspondence to Professor Charles C Branas; cbranas{at}upenn.edu
  • Received 6 May 2014
  • Revised 16 September 2014
  • Accepted 13 October 2014
  • Published 2 February 2015

Abstract

Objectives To complete a 30-year interrupted time-series analysis of the impact of austerity-related and prosperity-related events on the occurrence of suicide across Greece.

Setting Greece from 1 January 1983 to 31 December 2012.

Participants A total of 11 505 suicides, 9079 by men and 2426 by women, occurring in Greece over the study period.

Primary and secondary outcomes National data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority assembled as 360 monthly counts of: all suicides, male suicides, female suicides and all suicides plus potentially misclassified suicides.

Results In 30 years, the highest months of suicide in Greece occurred in 2012. The passage of new austerity measures in June 2011 marked the beginning of significant, abrupt and sustained increases in total suicides (+35.7%, p<0.001) and male suicides (+18.5%, p<0.01). Sensitivity analyses that figured in undercounting of suicides also found a significant, abrupt and sustained increase in June 2011 (+20.5%, p<0.001). Suicides by men in Greece also underwent a significant, abrupt and sustained increase in October 2008 when the Greek recession began (+13.1%, p<0.01), and an abrupt but temporary increase in April 2012 following a public suicide committed in response to austerity conditions (+29.7%, p<0.05). Suicides by women in Greece also underwent an abrupt and sustained increase in May 2011 following austerity-related events (+35.8%, p<0.05). One prosperity-related event, the January 2002 launch of the Euro in Greece, marked an abrupt but temporary decrease in male suicides (−27.1%, p<0.05).

Conclusions This is the first multidecade, national analysis of suicide in Greece using monthly data. Select austerity-related events in Greece corresponded to statistically significant increases for suicides overall, as well as for suicides among men and women. The consideration of future austerity measures should give greater weight to the unintended mental health consequences that may follow and the public messaging of these policies and related events.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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