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Shock in Greek Armed Forces: Three suicides in less than a month

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
2000                  10
2001                   9
2002                   9
2003                   7
2004                   8
2005                   5
2006                   7
2007                  10
2008                   7
2009                   4
2010                   3
2011                   3
2012                   2
2013                   6
2014                   1
2015                   5

Total                 96

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.

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  1. There is something wrong with this story ?
    What desperation indeed !
    Are we sure that the suicide rate is not due to vaccines or other experimental cocktails enforced upon the Defense Forces personnel ?
    The US is not the only government to all pharmaceutical companies to use experimtal chemical cocktails on their defense forces personnel.

  2. I feel for the family and friends of those that commited suicide.
    But to try and find any trends/general explanations inside such a (thankfully) small sample ist just bad statistics and you know it KTG.
    Dont try to make up bad/phony examples to bash the austerity, it just unnesserily lowers your credibility and there are plenty of other ways to show the negative impacts on austerity, many of which you have covered expertly.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      you think KTG writes only about the impact of austerity?

      • No, but I see a back and forth in this article connecting the two issues in a way that is not logically sound.
        “Greek media speak of an increase of suicides or attempted suicides in the last two years…” “…an army officer committed suicide and left a note citing financial problems….” and”… among the reasons for developing ‘suicide desire’ were ‘low-income”

        yet you also correctly state “….however there has been no significant increase due to the economic crisis.”
        So if there is no increase why the earlier quotes?
        This article is certainly in part about the impact of austerity.
        And while there might actually be an increase DUE TO economic reason(one cant tell, the data sample is too small for any trends to emerge) the logic in connecting the two issues like in this article is faulty.

        Please dont take it personal when I criticise(most people do), its not meant to trash you, it is my way of saying I think your good but here you can improve. I like most of your pieces and I also realize this is a blog meaning you have the prerogative to be subjective if you like. It is because your argumentative logic is sound most of the time that it bugs me when it isnt. I remember a similar response from me a couple of month back when you misquoted/mistranslated m schulz.

    • Your crediblity is below zero. You know nothing about Greece, nothing about economics, and apparently nothing about anything else. Do not try to belittle the meaning of suicide in a country like Greece which culturally has had very little toleration or expectation of it. Your pro-Troika propaganda is obviously what’s important to you, so spare us the crocodile tears — nobody is fooled.

      • And you apparently cant read. What is the first sentence I said in this thread?
        You have worked with statistics so you know Im right when I say you cant read a trend out of these numbers. You KNOW that and I made clear what Im talking about yet you ignore it as you always do.

  3. According to the figures in the table there have been less suicides in the military during the last 5 years.Austerity is patently not the reason for this problem.