Suicide rates continue to rise throughout Europe, especially among teens


European Union


Photo Unsplash, Eric Ward

During the COVID-19 pandemic, much of Europe saw its suicide rate rise to its highest level in years.

Now into the third year of the pandemic, suicide hotlines are still seeing a rise in inquiries, as reported by The Portal of the Reformed ref.ch

Throughout Switzerland, the counselling organisation Dargebote Hand, (translated from German as the Offered Hand) has received nearly 40 per cent more calls regarding suicide in 2022 compared to the years before the pandemic, according to the article. Dargbote Hand is an independent organisation that offers an emergency suicide helpline (number 143) as well as anonymous chat and email options. Recently, many of their suicide inquiries have been from minors, particularly male teenagers.

“The distress that caused this group to pick up the phone can only be guessed at,” the organization said to Portal of the Reformed.

Elsewhere in Europe, more countries are seeing an upward trend in young people contemplating suicide, according to a report from Euractiv. Croatia’s suicide rate rose slightly in 2020, but it has witnessed a 57 per cent rise in suicides among their 15-25 age group. In Bulgaria, approximately 500 people take their lives annually, and at least 70 per cent of that figure is young people.

In Poland, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has allocated at least 48 million Euros to improve mental health treatment for children and teens. Suicides among these groups are increasing yearly, with only one psychiatrist per 20,000 youths in the country. In Finland, at least a quarter of its suicides is among young people. The country has at least eighteen mental health helplines, which have all seen their calls increase to 309,000. At least 10,000 of those calls were from those under 30, the article said.

While mental health services remain free in Europe’s national healthcare systems, patients often have to wait months or even years to receive adequate care.

More churches are becoming aware of the crisis and have come to see it as an opportunity to bring the hope of Christ, according to an article in DW.

In Germany, Catholic and Protestant churches have come together every year to launch a national campaign called “Week of Life.” Suicide prevention became the focus of the program for 2019 and began by having local aid centres give presentations on the topic.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Chairman of the German Bishops Conference, said that for years, the church has not “set the right tone on the issue.” Marx also urged the church to “listen to desperate people” and to understand the signs when someone is having suicidal thoughts.

“We want to be where we are needed, as Jesus of Nazareth has told us. In order for the silence and taboo to stop, society must wake up to the issue,” he said in a sermon quoted by the DW.



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