77-Year-Old Greek Kills Self Over Debt
Shoots himself 300 feet from parliament in Athens
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2012 7:47 AM CDT
Syntagma Square.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – How dire is the situation in Greece? It's come to this: A 77-year-old killed himself in an Athens square this morning, apparently distraught over his mounting debt. Police say the unidentified man shot himself about 300 feet from the parliament building in Syntagma Square, as rush-hour commuters passed by. Though the man left no suicide note, witnesses heard him shouting, "So I won't leave debts for my children."

The Wall Street Journal notes that suicides were up 20% in 2010 and 2011 in Greece, compared to pre-crisis 2009. But a government rep downplayed the incident, saying, "We must all be calm and respect the real causes (of the suicide), which are not yet known." The death follows similar occurrences in Italy: Reuters reports that a 78-year-old woman jumped out of her fourth-floor balcony yesterday after her pension was chopped by 25%. The week prior, two men stricken with debt set themselves on fire; both survived.

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Apr 4, 2012 5:50 PM CDT
The man's name is Dimitris Christoulas - he was a retired pharmacist and had sold his pharmacy in Athens in 1994. This suicide note was found on the gentleman: "The Tsolakoglou 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 (although if a fellow Greek were to grab a Kalashnikov, I would be right behind him), 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. I believe that young people with no future, will one day take up arms and hang the traitors of this country upside down at Syntagma Square, just like the Italians did to Mussolini in 1945" Georgios Tsolakoglou headed the Greek collaborationist government during the German occupation of Greece in the Second World War.The note has been widely regarded as drawing a parallel between Lucas Papademos’ current collaborationist government and Tsolakoglou’s regime because of the economic crisis in the country.
Apr 4, 2012 3:45 PM CDT
I would kill myself before becoming homeless or going into a nursing home. Sign of the times...
Apr 4, 2012 8:22 AM CDT
A person killed himself because of mounting personal debt? This happens all the time in every country all over the world. This is not news.