“Eleven people commit suicide every day in Spain, the number is growing and the necessary measures are not being taken,” said Victoria de la Serna, 63, whose son took his own life over a decade ago. And she’s outraged by the lack of preventative measures over suicide, which remains a taboo subject in the country. At her side was her 31-year-old daughter Maria Fernandez-Cavada, who pointed to the campaigns against deaths on the roads, through cancer or gender violence, which have reduced the numbers in recent years. “Death in itself is a taboo subject,” she said — but talking about suicide “is even more difficult”. “It’s like an atomic bomb that completely destroys your family,” she said, as she looked through photos of her brother. With the latest figures showing eight suicides per 100,000 inhabitants every year, Spain is below the European average, which according to World Bank figures from 2019 was 11.3. But although the European numbers have been falling for the past 20 years, in Spain the figure is rising in a way that cannot be explained away by the impact of the pandemic or social media, nor by growing levels of anxiety or poverty. Last year, a new record of 4,097 suicides was set, up from 3,371 two decades earlier. And these figures “are clearly underestimated”, said clinical psychologist Javier Jimenez, honorary president of RedAIPIS-FAeDS, a charity specializing in suicide research and prevention. It also supports the family and friends of victims. The official figure, he said, did not take into account the fact that many of the 8,000 accidental deaths that take place every year are suicides, in the absence of any form of “psychological post-mortem”. “Other countries have more reliable statistics because there isn’t such a taboo or so much stigma” around suicide, said Jimenez, pointing to Spain’s deeply Catholic heritage in which suicide is classed as a grave sin. He also denounced the almost systematic prescription of medication for depression as well as the inaccessibility of psychological help, both due to prohibitive costs and a lack of therapists.