Tragedy of Greek pensioner puts focus on rising austerity suicides

Apr 5, 2012

Man kills himself in protest at pension cut on day fears rise of further eurozone difficulties


ATHENS police fired tear gas last night at Greeks protesting against the country's painful austerity programme after a 77-year-old-man shot himself dead in Syntagma Square because, he said, the government had cut his pension to nothing.

Dimitris Christoulas was a retired pharmacist who sold his business in 1994. Leaving behind his wife and daughter, he killed himself near the Greek parliament yesterday morning.

A note found in his coat pocket read: "The government has annihilated all traces for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone paid for 35 years with no help from the state.

"And since my advanced age does not allow me a way of dynamically reacting... I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life, so I don't find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance."
Fellow Greeks left flowers and tributes at the spot where Christoulas ended his life. The BBC reports that one note read: "Enough is enough". Another said: "Who will be the next victim?"

By evening, hundreds of demonstrators were gathering in the square. When petrol bombs were thrown at police, they responded with tear gas.

Christoulas's very public death threw the focus once again on the human cost of European austerity measures. As The Daily Telegraph reports, "One in five Greeks are unemployed, depression is on the rise and there is a growing feeling of despair across the country." Figures show suicides in Athens rose by 25 per cent last year.

The shock at Christoulas's death came on the day hopes suddenly faded that the eurozone might be pulling itself out of trouble. The FTSE 100 closed 2.3 per cent down at 5703.8 – its biggest fall in four months – after a day of jitters across European bourses and a disappointing bond auction in Spain, where the government is desperately trying to stave off the need for an international bailout.

Christoulas killed himself the day after another European pensioner threw herself from the balcony of her third-floor apartment in the Sicilian town of Gela. The 78-year-old Italian woman was protesting at her monthly pension being cut from €800 to €600.

Her son, Bruno Marsana, is reported by the Telegraph to have said: "The government is making us all poorer, apart from the wealthy, who they don't touch, in contrast with us workers and small businessmen who are struggling with heavy debts."

Last week, two men set themselves on fire in Italy in suicide attempts that left them both in hospital suffering serious burns. A 58-year-old businessman attempted self-immolation while sitting in his car outside a tax office in Bologna. He was protesting against the rejection of his appeal against a claim for unpaid tax.

A 27-year-old Moroccan construction worker did the same thing outside the town hall of Verona, in protest at not being paid for four months. His self-immolation was a "symptom of the utter exasperation felt by the weakest employees," said union leader Vincenzo Scudiere.

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Where I have a home in Spain there are Moroccans who regularly go through the bins.  They were offered flights home by the Spanish Government, but preferred to stay in Spain and rake through garbage as it was more lucrative.

Sad, but we should not be greatly influenced by the actions of a single nutter.

A man commits suicide near the democratic Greek parliament that agreed to the austerity measures in the first place. Why did not the Greek MPs force the government to cancel all debts unless they lenders showed exactly what they had lent and where they did get the money to lend in the first place? Most, if not all, those money to lend was created out of thin air.

How is it mathematically possible for banks to lend more than they received in the first place? How is it mathematically possible for every country (except Libya when Ghaddafi was their leader) to be in debt? This is all scam.

People should not suffer because of fractional reserve ratio. Enough is enough.

Why do you say that this person was a nutter? Are the Greek MPs sane who allowed this austerity measures to be implimented in the first place?

Please read my posting right after yours. Please answer my questions if your time permits.

Most, if not all, those money to lend was created out of thin air.

You are very confused.

Imagine you do work for me at £50.00. If I have no money so I offer you an refuse. My bank allows me to overdraw and pay you £50.00, if you then deposit that cheque in a bank account you have money...£50.00. I owe £50 to the bank, the bank owes you £50. 

How does that differ from me giving you an IOU? The bank has accepted the risk I will not pay and so you now have a liquid asset...a bank account...rather than an illiquid asset, an IOU from me. Others will accept your bank account as payment for goods etc.

All this "money from thin air" stuff if nonsense. Better to read a decent book on "money and banking" than the nonsense that is all over the web.

Why "a nutter"...I think that is pretty obvious.

Tragic !! The psychological and human costs are at times not taken into consideration, because the issues are obscured by quantification. 

Why Ghaddafi alone? Because he was good at propaganda? Or fiddled the books? The only good place for a dictator is in the grave.

This time, Alok, I do agree with you. The Greek gentleman was NOT a nutter, He was desperate. It is time the Greek government forced its tax-evading citizens to pay up, ie, the doctors on 10,000-14,000 euros per year(!) and the swimming-pool owners who do not declare the pools although they are legally required to.

Now,now Tom. settle down. Else the great and good may assume you believe that you are convinced the credit checks and guarantees the bank offering overdrafts have performed on you and the guy who rightly refuses an I.O.U. that has no financial credibility are made to face the same proof of credibility checks for their risks. ( For THEIR read OUR risk considering they win when they win and we lose when they can't win.)  

If your gonna talk serious economics you must follow through. Or risk sounding like a...... uuummmh, nutter! That's the word I was looking for. 

Talk of nonsense all over the web!

No because no one would extend him credit when he was the mad dog. When they brought him in from the cold they needed that oil as a security in case it went tits up inthe gulf so he didn't need to borrow. Dictator yes. Book fiddler? No. He just cut out those who weren't reading from the same hymn sheet or not singing loudly enough making the balancing of books far less strenuous than it is in      
nations were leaders are held accountable even if not punishable.

My explanation was a simplification of reality. Otherwise correct.
Your post is the rant of a fool. Pure nonsense.

Greece pensions cut by 25% and figures show suicides in Athens rose by 25%. Not just an old Greek tragedy, a 27-year-old Moroccan construction worker committed suicide. The human cost just another bankers write off as they take their bonuses in gold-man sacks.