When I was young, we were living in a farm, in the Finnish countryside. Our neighbors were a couple and they were drinking pretty much all the time. One evening, there was a storm and their building completely burned down. Nobody died, nothing happened to the couple but from what I heard back then, the man had forgotten a lit candle and that candle alone had started the fire, which caused the building to burn. Apparently, this man – our neighbor – felt so guilty for causing the fire that he committed suicide. His wife became a widow and I know for a fact that she has been drinking a lot ever since, on a daily basis. I was really young when this incident happened, about five or six years old. 

No, I don’t think there’s a link between the alcohol consumption rate and the suicide rate, because the suicide rate has actually declined, whereas alcohol consumption is still super high. Though, both alcoholism and suicide are taboo topics in our society. 

(Samuli is an economics adviser at the permanent representation of Finland to the E.U.)

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