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Greece: Depression And Suicide Rate Rising In Face Of Economic Crisis, National Shame

Unemployment, economic hardship, and the shame of being considered Europe’s black sheep – the Greek have never been so dispirited. And the number of cases of clinical depression and suicides is soaring.

Protesters don't have a cure for country's black mood. (George Laoutaris)
Protesters don't have a cure for country's black mood. (George Laoutaris)

While the rest of Europe may be tormented by the thought of having to cough up ever more money to bail out Athens, the once carefree Greeks are getting more depressed by the day. Psychiatrists say that the economic crisis has triggered a 25 to 30% increase in the number of patients seeking their help.

"There is an increase in the number of patients suffering from minor psychiatric conditions: anxiety, panic attacks and depression," says Dimitris Ploumidis, head of a mental health center in eastern Athens. "In September 2010, people had to wait two weeks for a consultation, now it's more like two-and-a-half months."

Before the crisis started, Greece was proud to be at the bottom of the list in Europe for the number of suicides, with a rate of 2,8 for 100,000 inhabitants. But that might be changing. Experts believe that in 2009 their number suffered a 18% increase compared with 2007, with numbers expected to have climbed ever higher in 2010.

Most people who commit suicide come from Athens or the island of Crete, where several business people killed themselves in the midst of grave financial problems. "The desire to commit suicide always has more than one cause, but a lot of those who come to us for help are people who used to make a good living, and who are now having financial difficulties," says Aris Violatzis, a psychiatrist from the Klimaka NGO, in charge of the SOS Suicide hotline.

If experts believe that this national blues stems mainly from economic troubles, they also suspect that worries about the future of Greece might be at work too. "The Greek identity has suffered a tremendous blow," says Aris Violatzis. "They are ashamed. The entire world today thinks that the Greek are cheaters, and the black sheep of Europe. This is very hard to accept."

Read the full article in French by Alain Salles

Photo - George Laoutaris

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

After Abbas: Here Are The Three Frontrunners To Be The Next Palestinian Leader

Israel and the West have often asked: Where is the Palestinian Mandela? The divided regimes between Gaza and the West Bank continues to make it difficult to imagine the future Palestinian leader. Still, these three names are worth considering.

Photo of Mahmoud Abbas speaking into microphone

Abbas is 88, and has been the leading Palestinian political figure since 2005

Thaer Ganaim/APA Images via ZUMA
Elias Kassem

Updated Dec. 5, 2023 at 12:05 a.m.

Israel has set two goals for its Gaza war: destroying Hamas and releasing hostages.

But it has no answer to, nor is even asking the question: What comes next?

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the return of the current Palestinian Authority to govern post-war Gaza. That stance seems opposed to the U.S. Administration’s call to revitalize the Palestinian Authority (PA) to assume power in the coastal enclave.

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But neither Israel nor the U.S. put a detailed plan for a governing body in post-war Gaza, let alone offering a vision for a bonafide Palestinian state that would also encompass the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority, which administers much of the occupied West Bank, was created in1994 as part of the Oslo Accords peace agreement. It’s now led by President Mahmoud Abbas, who succeeded Yasser Arafat in 2005. Over the past few years, the question of who would succeed Abbas, now 88 years old, has largely dominated internal Palestinian politics.

But that question has gained new urgency — and was fundamentally altered — with the war in Gaza.

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