The Croatian nonprofit association called "Zivotna linija" (Lifeline) on Monday marked Blue Monday, a day believed to be the most depressing day of the year, to warn that around 200,000 people in Croatia suffer from depression and are more at risk of suicide than the rest of the population.
The members of the association distributed chocolates and leaflets in Zagreb's central Ban Josip Jelacic Square under the slogan "Let's make the most depressing day of the year better." The leaflets warn that on average two people commit suicide in Croatia every day, which is around 700 people per year.
The president of the association, Tin Pongrac, pointed out that people suffering from depression were largely at risk of suicide. "Sometimes even just one kind word can mean the difference between life and death," he said.
According to World Health Organisation estimates, around 200,000 people suffer from depression in Croatia, but Pongrac thinks this is a conservative estimate. He thinks that as many as half a million people suffer from some form of depression.
Underscoring that depression is the second most serious problem in the Croatian public healthcare sector, he called on institutions to address the issue, which is becoming an increasingly great burden on the national health system.
He added that depression could be treated successfully. His association advocates a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy. "The system prescribes antidepressants, but it should also provide patients with psychotherapy," he said.