EU on the verge of Break up , as Suicide & Homelessness is an Epidemic
JNN 25 May 2012 Athens : A 60-year-old Greek musician and his 91-year-old mother jumped to their deaths from their 5th floor apartment, driven to despair by financial woes. This double death is the latest in a rising epidemic of crisis-induced suicides in Greece.
Witness accounts vary – some say the mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, jumped first, screaming a prayer as she plummeted to her death. Other neighbors say the mother and her son jumped together, holding hands.
But the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that the family had been struggling for a long time. The night before, Antonis Perris posted a suicide note of sorts on a popular Greek forum, saying he had no way of resolving the family’s financial issues.
“The problem is that I didn’t realize that I would need to have cash, because the economic crisis came so suddenly. Even though I have been selling our possessions, we have no cash flow, we have no money to buy food anymore and my credit card is maxed out with 22% interest rate.”
Perris continued to say that both his and his mother’s health deteriorated, and that he saw no solution to his most basic problems – getting food and medical help.
He ended his emotional statement by blaming the “powerful of this earth”, holding them responsible for the country’s – and his own – financial crisis.
Crisis suicides are no longer isolated incidents in Greece. Just two days ago a man committed suicide in central Athens, slashing his wrists on a well-populated square. In April, a student, a professor and a priest took their own lives in the country’s capital.
But it was the death of pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas, who shot himself in the head on a central Athens square that most acutely exposed the plight of Greeks amid savage austerity.
Before shooting himself amid morning rush hour on April 4th on Syntegra Square, opposite the Greek parliament building, the 77-year-old pensioner wrote a suicide note.
“I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life so I don’t find myself fishing through garbage cans for sustenance, “wrote Christoulas, who has since become a national symbol of the austerity-induced pain that is squeezing millions.
Greek media have reported suicides almost daily over the last few months – a shocking fact for a country that previously boasted one of the lowest suicide rates in the world.
A new report says around 13,000 Greek people are homeless in the capital Athens and the number of the poor in the recession-hit country is on the rise.
The report by the charity organization, Praksis, which was published on Thursday says in the Greek capital of over four million, around 11,500 Greeks are living in abandoned buildings, while 1500 others live on the streets.
“Most of these 1,500 are unemployed or drug addicts left behind after the shutdown of rehabilitation centers for lack of funds,” Praksis Chairman Tzanetos Antypas was quoted by AFP as saying.
The charity says a new generation of the homeless has emerged in Greece, as the country grapples with growing unemployment and the deepening economic crisis.
While the drug addicts and mentally challenged people constitute the majority of the Greek homeless in the past, now a new generation of jobless people with middle or higher educational backgrounds has ended up living on the streets.
“We see people aged 40-55, mainly men who have lost their jobs or are unable to pay their rent or support their families,” Antypas said.
The EU and IMF have presented Greece with two rescue packages in return for specific austerity measures, which include the cutting of public sector salaries and pensions, increasing taxes and overhauling the pension system.
Caught in a fifth year of recession, over a million people are officially unemployed in Greece, a fifth of the country’s total workforce.