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. (Read more Athens stories.)