Thursday, April 5, 2012

We need a Solidarity Fund to prevent suicides

The crisis is hitting hardly the weakest, most vulnerable parts of our societies. The most dramatic sign is a surge in suicides in the US and much of Europe. A recent study by a group of scientists published in the medical journal, The Lancet, found that rises in unemployment have been associated with higher suicide rates among people younger than 65 years. Between 2007 and 2009, as unemployment rose by a third and incomes were squeezed, suicides rates went up by least of 5 per cent in nine out of 10 countries studied. Nations with strong welfare systems and programmes to get people back to work appear to have been less affected

The graph below shows the variations in rates of  adult unemployment and suicide rates in old and new EU member States:

 In Greece, which is among the hardest hit countries,  the number of recorded suicides have roughly doubled since before the crisis to about six per 100,000 inhabitants per year, according to official sources.  As the economy is collapsing and unemployment rising rapidly (up to 16%!), the economic pain of austerity pervades the overwhelming majority of people. Emigration, crime, homeless people and personal bankruptcies are rising dramatically.

Recent data provided by local associations of craftsmen confirm a similar trend in Italy since 2008, affecting small entrepreneurs, who cannot pay their debts back or because their clients delayed payments.

In sum, the financial crisis destroys the foundations of our economies and has dramatic effects on health. Paradoxically, this has not  been  given much attention in official discourses, nor in government action. Charities, non-profit organizations can help raise awareness of the problem and persuade governments to intervene. We need to prevent these extreme acts, not only for moral and religious reasons because life is sacred, but also to combat social injustice. Governments should set up a solidarity fund for those who despair for not being able to pay their debts and are left alone without any safety net. Just like Europe has set up a rescue fund to save the euro...

1 comment:

  1. Monti said today that those who caused these deaths should reflect (La Repubblica May 8). Who are they? well, my answer is corrupted politicians and bankers !