Some studies have shown that access to mental health services can have an impact on mental health outcomes, including the suicide rates. The aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between regional and prefecture suicide rates (suicides per 100.000 residents) and both the number of primary and mental health-care service providers and the number of mental health infrastructures in Greece. Data were taken mainly from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT.) and the Ministry of Health for the period 2002-2009. Spearman correlations were used to examine the relationship between primary health-care, mental health providers and suicide rates per 100,000 residents at the prefecture, administrative region and geographical region levels. Men showed significantly higher suicide rates than women (U=-7.20, p<0.001). For the period 2002-2009, the highest suicide rate at the prefecture level were in Rethymno (6.99), Rodopi (5.62) and Zakynthos (5.28). For the same period, the highest suicide rates at the geographical level were in Peloponnisos (4.01), Ionian Islands (4.03) and Grete (3.65). Increase in suicide rates (2009 vs 2002-2009) was observed in the following geographical regions of Greece: Crete (4.76 vs 3.65), Thrace (4.45 vs 2.02) Central Greece (3.61 vs 1.39) Aegean Islands (3.03 vs 1.28). The highest correlations between suiciderutes and health services at the geographic regional level were found to be during the period 2007-2009, where suicide rates showed a significant negative correlation with privately practicing psychiatrists (rho=-0.71, p<0.05), privately practicing psychologists (rho=-0.56, p<0.05), pathologists (rho=-0.73, p<0.01), and the number of the official mental health services (psychiatric clinics, day centers, mobile mental health units etc.) (rho=-0.73, p<0.01). In conclusion it was found that at all regional levels, suicide rates were reversely related to the number of primary health-care and mental health service providers, as well as the number of mental health infrastructures in Greece. It should be noted that the running financial crisis in Greece seems to have many effects on quality of life, since the most common effects of an economic crisis are unemployment, spending power cuts,general insecurity and public spending retrenchment, including health related budget cuts. Having in mind the above situation, further analyses are needed to determine the relationship between mental health-care services, suicide rates and other psychosocial indices, in order to provide a strategic plan for a better design of mental health-care policy in Greece.
Keywords: suicide, suicide rates, mental health, mental health service providers, financial crisis..