Greece’s Armed Forces are in shock. A non-commissioned officer of the Land Forces was found dead in his home on Monday morning. According to a statement of the Land Forces General Stab, the 44-year-old lieutenant was ‘fatally wounded at 2 am’ on Monday. “The causes of his death are being investigated,” the statement concluded in a traditional army tone. However, the Greek Federation of Military Associations, speaks of a suicide, noting in a statement that the man “had hanged himself in the early hours of Monday.
The lieutenant put an end to his life just 20 days, after another lieutenant, 38, shot himself in front of his soldiers, on August 4th. Several army units were participating in a army exercise on the island of Samos, when the officer pulled out his gun, put it on his temple, told two soldiers “I say Farewell” and pulled the trigger. Five days later, a 27-year-old soldier shot himself on a Sunday noon, while he was on watch duty in a military camp in Orestiada, in North-East Greece.
Greek media speak of an increase of suicides or attempted suicides in the last two years and that while in the past it was mostly soldiers taking such fatal decisions, “now it is also officers.” Last March a 43-year-old officer of the Air Force jumped into death from the fourth floor. In May 2013 an army officer committed suicide and left a note citing financial problems.
According to a survey among 400 military personnel who has visited the Psychiatric Department of the Military Hospital in Athens January-September 2014, among the reasons for developing ‘suicide desire’ were ‘low-income (indicative 500 euro per month), absence of a partner and absence of a supportive framework.
From the year 2000 until today, 96 members of the Greek Armed Forces have committed suicides, however there has been no significant increase due to the economic crisis. “Officers estimate that the most common reasons were problems in personal relations, severe chronic family problems and use of drugs. However, “no reasons” (!) were found for 16% of the suicide cases. According to GAF, the rate of suicides among military personnel in Greece is more or less the same as in other countries.
Year Suicides among Greek Armed Forces
However, attempted suicides are not recorded here.
It should be noted that most of the suicides occur in the Land Forces, with “summer, Christmas and Easter holidays” to be considered as the most critical times. Suicides in Land Forces are estimated to be almost three times higher than in the Navy and one and a half time more frequent than in the Air Force.
Military officers looking into the matter of suicides in the Armed Forces speak of higher stress factors in recent times and seek measures to relief distress like with more frequent days of leave and less unpleasant or dull duties.
Whether the military leadership will indeed proceed to measures to prohibit such tragic incidents and provide psychological support or not, fact is that the military personnel feels it has been left alone and is in permanent shock to read again again of colleagues who see no other way out than to put an end of their lives.
What kind of desperation plagues the Greek Armed Forces? It certainly needs more than just a few more days on leave to fix the problem of austerity cuts, personal and family problems.
Since beginning of the economic crisis the general rate of suicides in the society increased 35 percent.