Tuesday, September 20, 2011

more devastation from financial crisis

 From Naked Capitalism and WSJ
It is likely the similar findings are true in the US.  This weekend we saw statistics on the increase in child abuse cases as the financial crisis worsened.  

The Wall Street Journal has a sobering but much needed piece on the recession-induced rise in suicides in Greece and the rest of the Eurozone.
The media typically presents the consequences of job and income loss in anodyne, depersonalized terms: unemployment, foreclosure, default, delinquency, bankruptcy. Yet the event fray personal relationships and batter one’s identity and sense of self worth. Sure, there might be a vignette depicting how an individual is affected by a particular type of bad event, but then the story (at least if it’s on the business pages) shifts to the statistics and quotes from various experts. And many people don’t witness this sort of stress first hand, since most victims are deeply ashamed and suffer in silence until their situation becomes untenable.
Key sections of the Journal account:
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 economic pain is the price Greece and Europe are paying to defend the euro, the center…
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….About 40% more Greeks killed themselves in the first five months of this year than in the same period last year…
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…
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.
The caller often fits a certain profile: male, age 35 to 60 and financially ruined. “He has also lost his core identity as a husband and provider, and he cannot be a man any more according to our cultural standards,” Mr. Violatzis says…
Victims once were typically adolescent males or old people facing severe illness, and in normal times suicide cases often involve a mixture of factors including mental illness, says local [Heraklion, Crete] psychiatrist Eva Maria Tsapaki.
But the economic crash has created a “new phenomenon of entrepreneurs with no prior history of mental illness who are found dead every other week,” she says. “It’s very unusual.”..
“Our pride is as high as Psiloritis,” the island’s tallest mountain, says Yiannis Tsevabinas, a local lawyer. The culture breeds confident, extroverted and adventurous characters, he says, “but when pride is lost, it can also make you vulnerable.”
The story is anchored the sad account of how a man who operated a fruit and vegetable business, Vaggelis Petrakis, came to take his life. And although there are only 20 comments up so far at the Journal, it appears the story itself and perhaps the long grind of the post crisis downturn is leading to a more balanced discussion that I usually see there. Stories about Bad Shit Happening to Little People usually elicit a fair amount of moralizing and/or attributing the victim’s sorry fate to government interference. The shift in the mix of comments may be a sign that Americans are beginning to realize that only a very thin slice at the very top can shield themselves from the vagaries of the economy.

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