As a result of their debt crisis, there has been an alarming rise in the number of calls to suicide phone lines in Greece. The National Suicide Prevention Helpline in the capital Athens saw a four-fold increase in calls between its inception in 2007 and 2010. Those figures doubled again in the last year. The most recent suicide data has not yet been published, but according to the Ministry of Health there was a 20% rise in suicides between 2007 and 2009. The actual numbers are likely to be a lot higher as there is probably under reporting of suicide due to the stigma attached to it. Dr Eleni Bekiari is a psychiatrist at the National Suicide Prevention Helpline and is calling for a national strategy to address the problem.

A strange disease in Eastern Africa is baffling medical experts. It is known as nodding syndrome, and the children who have it nod violently when they see food or when they get really cold. The disease stunts the growth of their bodies and their brains and can be fatal. Other countries in the region have seen similar, but limited outbreaks but at the moment the problem appears to be worst in South Sudan, where there are estimated to be between six and eight thousand cases. James Copnall, the BBC’s correspondent in South Sudan, reports.

It is sometimes said that when women get a cold they get on with it and get better quite soon, while the same cold leaves a man apparently unable to get out of bed – man flu, as it is sometimes known. Men can be given a hard time about this, but new research suggests they may need our sympathy as they might really be suffering more than women. This new study was done on mice and rats and has not been done on humans yet, however it does build on other recent work suggesting the immune systems of men and women could work differently. Considering most drugs are only tested on men, this could have important implications. Dr Ramona Scotland lectures in Vascular Pharmacology at the Queen Mary University of London and she conducted the research just published in the journal Blood.

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Sun 2 Oct 2011 23:32 GMT

Zika: a new pandemic?

Zika virus emerggency talks

The explosive spread and impact of the mosquito-borne virus.