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In Greek suicide note: financial despair and political rage

Suicide rates double as country plunges into euro zone's worst economic crisis

Reuters  |  Athens 

The note in the pocket of a Greek pensioner who hanged himself from a tree in Athens on Wednesday reflected the despair caused by an economic crisis and the politicised rage of a nation being driven to the brink.

Greece, which used to have one of the lowest suicide rates in the world, has seen a surge of people taking their own lives since it was plunged into the euro zone's worst economic crisis. Experts say the suicide rate probably doubled last year.

Police sources told Reuters the 61-year-old electrician and father of two found dead on Wednesday had owed money to banks and the tax office that he was unable to repay.

His anguished suicide note, which identified him only by the name Alexandros, said Greece could be saved only with a leader like former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

He wrote that he always worked hard but had become a businessman late in life and had got himself into debt.

"I hope my grandchildren will never be born in Greece because from now on it won't be populated by Greeks any more," he wrote, according to the police sources.

"At least they will know a foreign language as Greek will be abolished by then unless there is a politician with balls, like Thatcher's, to fix both us and the state," he wrote.

The man was found in a small park by a passing couple near the port of Piraeus about 20 km (12 miles) from the centre of Athens.

The police sources did not link his suicide directly to a recession that is already in its fifth year, but said it may have aggravated his already troubled state of mind.

The man had only irregular work as an electrician in recent years, a story that will be familiar in a country where one person in five - and more than half of the youth - are jobless. Construction has halted across the country and work for skilled labourers like electricians has been among the hardest hit.

The personal sorrow caused by the economic crisis hit headlines last month when a 77-year-old man shot himself in Athens' central Syntagma square in front of the parliament.

He left a note complaining that the government had "annihilated" his hope of survival, adding that he had decided to take his own life before being forced to start scrounging for food from rubbish bins.

First Published: Thu, May 31 2012. 08:25 IST