Suicides up 26% in economic crisis-hit Greece

ATHENS (AFP) - Suicides have jumped by 26 per cent in Greece over the past year, with the country's economic crisis blamed for the trend, officials said on Tuesday.

Four hundred and seventy seven people committed suicide in Greece in 2011, an increase of 26 per cent over the previous year, the national statistics agency Elstat said.

Although 82 per cent of those who committed suicide were men, the rate of women taking their own lives doubled to 84 deaths in 2011, the agency said.

The region of Athens, where nearly one-third of Greece's 11 million people live, accounted for 35 per cent of the cases, it said. Central Macedonia in the north accounted for 11 per cent, while the island of Crete accounted for 7.7 per cent.

An official in the statistics agency said the figures for 2011 were carefully verified.

The radical leftist opposition party Syriza and NGOs blamed the rise in suicides on the impoverishment of recession-hit Greece - where more than a quarter of people are unemployed - during the last four years of austerity imposed by international creditors in return for international aid.