Although Lithuania is known for its rich history and culture, the country is also haunted by another much darker characteristic: having the highest suicide rate in Europe.
For the last couple decades, Lithuania has topped the charts of countries with the highest suicide rates in the world. The small nation is currently averaging around 30 suicides per 100,000 people annually — with a total population of around 3 million, that adds up to roughly 1,000 suicides per year.
Although Lithuania has a handful of organizations looking to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts, many like Lithuanian actor Arūnas Sakalauskas feel that more can be done. Last Tuesday (Sept. 22), Sakalauskas organized a flash mob in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius to help raise awareness on the issue.
A group of more than 700 people gathered at the capital’s city center and stood together holding one another’s hands in solidarity. According to A Plus, Sakalauskas said he wanted to help…
“…encourage people to be more empathic towards each other, to care for and help each other more than we are used to.”
The organizers also felt that by clearly showing onlookers the number of individuals who choose to end their lives every year in Lithuania, they could help encourage discussion on the issue in hopes of preventing future suicides.
Check out the video below to see aerial footage of the gathering in Lithuania…