By Mark Russell, Newser Staff

Tough times are taking a heavy toll on the mental health of Europeans. The last few years have seen thousands of what media outlets have labeled "economic suicides" among unemployed or fearful workers in Greece, Italy, Ireland, and elsewhere, finds the Washington Post.

Researchers have found that other signs of mental stress, such as the use of antidepressants, are on the rise, and the World Health Organization warns that mental health issues are endangering people's physical health, dragging European economies further down.

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In Greece, the country with the hardest-hit economy, the suicide rate nearly doubled between 2010 and 2011. The steep rise is shaking the small country, and the notes left behind by those who took their lives are pored over online and in the media. Among them:

  • "I have no solution in front of me," wrote an unemployed musician who jumped from the roof of his apartment building to his death, hand-in-hand with his 90-year-old mother.
  • "Violence is to work 40 years for peanuts and to wonder if you'll ever get to retire. ... Violence is unemployment," wrote a 44-year-old man who hanged himself in his father's warehouse.
  • "I hope my grandchildren will never be born in Greece," wrote a 61-year-old electrician who hanged himself from a tree in Athens.

--Written by Mark Russell of Newser