Calls to Psychiatrists Soar

Russia's leading psychiatric institute has seen a fourfold increase in callers looking for advice since the start of the global financial crisis, its director said.

The Serbsky Institute, best known for incarcerating Soviet-era dissidents, is helping the government tackle the growing problem by rolling out a nationwide network of "anti-crisis centers" to treat mental illness.

Nationwide figures are not yet available, but the number of outpatients at the Moscow-based institute has grown between 10 and 20 percent since the crisis began, institute director Tatyana Dmitriyeva told journalists this week.

"A month ago it was just occasional individuals. ... But soon I think that half the people who ask for help will have problems related to the crisis," she said.

Russians, Dmitriyeva said, are particularly at risk because "they are extremely sensitive to their own failure."

Russia has the world's second-highest suicide rate after Lithuania, according to figures from the World Health Organization.

"The Russian Ivan feels more responsibility to his family and to himself, for how he could fail and let his family down? That is why there are more suicides in Russia," Dmitriyeva said.

At least two Russian businessmen have left suicide notes saying that they took their lives as a result of the current crisis, she said.