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Greece Suicides Epidemic, 350 Greek Tragedies in Athens in June Alone

Politics / Social Issues Aug 16, 2012 - 03:45 AM GMT

By: Raul_I_Meijer

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleYou know, we can write and read and research all we want, and till we're deep dark blue in the face, about Angela Merkel and Tim Geithner and Mario Draghi or Monti and Greek heroes Samaras and Venizelos, about what they say and do from day to day, driven by political pressure and mundane issues such as bond yields. And we will continue to write, read and research these things; that's not going to stop.


But as soon as any of us take a step back and try to see things from another perspective than that of the proverbial and iconic child with her nose pressed against the display window of the candy store, there's none of us with a grain of self-respect left who can maintain that what we see unfold is about Angela, Timothy and the Mario's. And that is what we will increasingly, and I mean all of us, need to add to our writing and reading: We will have failed miserably if we haven't paid attention to the people most affected by what rabbits the various leaderships decide to conjure up out of their high hats.

And not just because if misery in the streets reaches a critical mass, that will be where the direction of politics will be decided. It's not a macro picture. We ourselves are not a macro picture; we all of us live human micro lives. We therefore need to pay attention to the plight of the victims of the crisis, because they are people like us, because they can function as a mirror to who we are, and strive to be, and as a mirror for our futures. It is no use to be well-off yourself if you don't have a functioning society to be well-off in. And don't worry, I don't expect the majority of you to understand. I fully expect most people to hit the wall running.

Money has no value in and of itself; it derives that value from the world it rolls in. Take away that world, and you take away the value.

Yes, financial markets are doing relatively well, and if they don't, central banks will throw more of your cash at the banks. The problem is that they don't throw that cash at the people. Many of whom could really do with some. According to the present paradigm, banks are more important than people, and people, if I understand it well, can only be saved if banks are saved first (with the people's money). This paradigm is the sort of insanity only economists and bankers can come up with. The life of a person, whether rich or poor, is infinitely more important than the life of a bank. No contest. You would think.

What got me started on all of this is a great - great in its sadness - little tale from today's Spiegel, by Barbara Hardinghaus and Julia Amalia Heyer, on what happens with real people. Either we deal with issues such as this, or we don't. And if we don't, the issues will deal with us. Down the line, whatever happens to others happens to us too. We are after all social animals, that's not something we can alter at will. But we still try hard, don't we?

Wave of Suicides Shocks Greece

Greece has always had one of the lowest suicide rates in Europe, but its economic crisis has triggered a disturbing increase in the number of people killing themselves. Are the deaths the result of personal desperation or are people making a political statement with the only thing they have left to sacrifice?

On July 16, a businessman and father of three hanged himself in his shop on the island of Crete. A 49-year-old man from Patras was found by his son. He had also hanged himself. On July 25, a 79-year-old man on the southern Peloponnese peninsula hanged himself with a cable tied to an olive tree. On August 3, a 31-year-old man shot himself to death at his home near Olympia. On August 5, a 15-year-old boy hanged himself in Pieria. And, on August 6, a 60-year-old former footballer self-immolated in Chalcis.

These are also reports from Greece, reports that, at first glance, seem to have nothing to do with the economy. They come together to form a grim statistic, raising questions of what is triggering the suicides and whether the high incidence is merely a coincidence.

Or do people see suicide as a way out of the crisis that has taken hold of their country and their lives? Are they bowing out before things get even worse? Germany and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are opposed to a new bailout package for Athens. The country faces a shortfall of at least €40 billion ($49 billion). Greece could very well be officially bankrupt by the fall.

Greece, a country whose Orthodox Church does not condone suicide, has always had one of the lowest suicide rates in Europe. But now, there were 350 suicide attempts and 50 deaths in Athens in June alone. Most of the suicides were among members of the middle class and, in many cases, the act itself was carried out in public, almost as if it were a theatrical performance.

Desperate for Dignity

On April 4, shortly after 9 a.m., a 77-year-old pharmacist shot himself to death on Syntagma Square in downtown Athens. Dimitris Christoulas, a short man, stood against one of the large trees on the square, held a pistol to his temple and pulled the trigger.

"My father was a political person, a fighter," says his daughter, Emmy Christoulas. Weeks after her father's death, she is sitting in her living room in Chalandri, a northern suburb of Athens. She is a slim 42-year-old wearing oversized jeans, her short black hair streaked with gray.

Her father was politically active, a member of the "We Won't Pay" movement. He repeatedly called for an international review of Greece's national debt because he was convinced that it wasn't the fault of the people. He had come to beleaguered downtown Athens every day last summer to take part in rallies and to lend a hand, usually in the Red Cross tent.

The government has annihilated all traces for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone paid into for 35 years with no help from the state. I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life so that I don't find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance.

By Raul Ilargi Meijer
Website: http://theautomaticearth.com (provides unique analysis of economics, finance, politics and social dynamics in the context of Complexity Theory)

© 2012 Copyright Raul I Meijer - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


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