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Loneliness is gnawing the wellbeing and health of Finns more than any other single factor.
Even the state alcohol monopoly Alko is worried: the sales of lonkero (long drink) has increased in grocery stores by 37 percent, while the consumption in Alko dropped by 39 percent.
People may not know that long drink is one the original Finnish discoveries. While preparing to receive visitors to the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, the bartenders were struggling to serve the tens of thousands of customers seeking to get drunk while watching the Czechoslovakian runner Emil Zatopek beating every runner on the track. To respond to the high demand, beverage company Hartwall received an order to dilute gin with grape lemonade so that the drink could be served straight from the bottle and into the hand of the customer.
In a recent bulletin from Brussels, Miapetra Kumpula-Natri (SDP), member of the European Parliament, wanted to remind the Finnish press that loneliness can increase the risk of a sudden death by 45 percent. For comparison, she said, overconsumption of alcohol increases the risk of a premature death by somewhat 30 percent.
To combat loneliness, Kumpula-Natri is suggesting that the government would appoint a Minister of Loneliness. “The minister would funnel funds to research on loneliness and its consequences and the minister would start initiatives that aim to reduce loneliness,” she said.
It would, perhaps, also be a good idea that the Minister of Loneliness could appoint friends from the government to the people in need. Right now, the people who have friends in the government may be swilling lonkero with both hands, but they can buy friends from all over the world.