THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Text: Diana Koval
According to some publications, Lithuania has been named the EU murder capital. According to the Eurostat agency Lithuania saw an average 8.76 murders per 100,000 heads of population every year during the period 2002-8. However, this information, which showed up in various world media publications seem to be not completely up to date.
Death rate in Lithuania is among the highest in Europe. The only “good” news is that Lithuania finally stopped being the “murder capital”. According to Eurostat, in 2009 deaths due to homicide and assaults got the highest rate in Latvia (5.9 person of 100.000), while Lithuania stays behind on the 2nd place with death rate 5.6 person. Unfortunately, due to other causes such as suicide (31.5 of 100.000 comparing to Greece’s 3.0), ischemic heart diseases (305.1 comparing to Netherlands’ 42.8) and various accidents (68.2 comparing to Germany’s 14.6) Lithuania has the highest death rates in EU.
Statistics Department of Lithuania recently claimed that every day approximately 100 people are being born and 115 are dying (among them 1-due to transport accidents, 3 – committed suicide)
Lithuania still has the highest rate of death due to suicide in Europe, which was 31.5 of 100.000 inhabitants and then goes Hungary (21.8) and Latvia (20.7). Majority of them are being committed in urban area - Vilnius and Kaunas counties. People are killing themselves from various psychological reasons, desperation, bullying at school, depression, unemployment, and finance debts.
One of the biggest problems that Lithuania faces today is violence against women. Statistics claims that 63% of all women in Lithuania suffered from physical and/or psychological violence, whereas world average is 33%. According to Police department in 2009 there were approx. 42.000 police calls due to family conflicts and more than 8.000 of them were women who suffered from their husbands, partners or even from their children domestic disputes. Yet statistics are just the tip of the iceberg so one may wonder what the true numbers of such incidents are. The majority of people are more likely to think that domestic violence is a private family matter. Although there are laws prohibiting family violence, sometimes they aren’t as effective as they should be.
Another topic that needs consideration is incredibly high unemployment rates. According to Eurostat in November, 2010 unemployment rate in EU was 9.6% while Lithuania’s was 18.3%. Higher rates were registered only in Spain (20.6%), while in Netherlands unemployment rates were just 4.4 %. By January 2011, about 311.300 job seekers were registered by the Lithuanian Labour Exchange which is 14.4% of people of working age. Mindaugas Petras Balašaitis (Head of Lithuanian Labour Exchange) considers the situation at the state job market as very unusual: the unemployment growth slows down but somehow there is lack of qualified employees on Lithuanian job market (due to emigration, which is another deep problem for a country).
Furthermore, voluntarism rates in Lithuania are also incredibly low. Only 2% of population volunteered for some organizations comparing to Sweden’s 90%.
However, the situation in other Baltic states (especially Latvia) is also difficult. After the proclamation of Independence in 1991 Lithuanian society confronted sudden changes which were difficult to deal with. Psychologists claim that uncertainty and insecurity, worsening economic situation as well as rapid changes are the main reasons of this complicated status in Lithuania. Still it is merely (and mainly) a question of time when things will start improving.
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