Every day, 11 people commit suicide in Spain

10-02-2023

Southern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Demonstration for an anti-suicide protocol to prevent suicides among Police and Guardia Civil officers. Photo EPA, Zipi

The number of suicides in Spain is rising. In 2021, every day, 11 people took their own lives.

Suicide has been on top of the list of causes of non-natural deaths since 2008. The Covid pandemic worked as a catalyst, EU Observer reports.

Recently, a study from researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid ("Evolution of suicide in Spain in this millennium"), the Mental Health network Biomedical Research Centre and the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona showed that the causes for the rising number of suicides lie deeper than financial problems or the Covid pandemic, even though these factors do contribute to the issue. That is reported by Good Word News.

Waiting list

According to researcher Alejandro de la Torre, deficiencies in mental health care are a big part of the problem. Statistics from Eurostat show that Spain has only 11.8 psychologists available per 100,000 inhabitants. That means anyone requiring mental help may have to wait several months before seeing a psychologist.

Last month, psychologist Belén Hernández wrote a letter to the Spanish newspaper El Pais. She mentioned the example of a young man with suicidal thoughts. He was sent away from his consultation with a prescription only while being told to return in about a year. "If you don't have enough money to pay a private psychologist, suicide becomes an acceptable alternative", Hernández pointed out.

The shortage in psychologists will not be solved anytime soon, Javier Jiménez, president of the Association for Suicide Research, Prevention and Intervention (AIPIS), fears. Last year, only 321 vacancies for psychologists were offered, while there are thousands of graduates available. According to Jiménez, the problem will only worsen in the coming years, as many psychologists are close to retirement age.

Research from Renew Europe recently confirmed that young Europeans indicate that lack of proper healthcare is the main reason for suicide attempts.

Covid pandemic

In addition, the training for dealing with people who have suicidal inclinations is insufficient, says researcher De La Torre. Not even a single university in Spain includes suicide in its psychology curriculum.

At the same time, the Covid pandemic worsened the mental health of young people. "Social distancing measures have led to people being less able to create new support networks and strengthen existing ones", De La Torre says.

Suicide prevention seems to be in a forgotten corner in EU policies. Only ten member states had a national suicide prevention plan before the Covid pandemic. Spain was not one of them, EU Observer writes.

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