Human cost of bank austerity

The connection between the economic crisis and the increasing rate of suicide is worldwide. In April a 77-year-old retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas shot himself in front of the Greek parliament after shouting: “I have debts. I can’t stand this anymore. I don’t want to leave my debts to my children.”

He said in a suicide note that he would rather die with dignity than be forced to forage through garbage bins for food, saying the government had cut his pension. Within hours hundreds of demonstrators were in square where he had died demanding a halt to the austerity cuts being proposed by the Euro-banks, the IMF and Brussels.

More than 2,000 mourners attended his funeral a few days later waving banners expressing their own despair over the nation’s enforced slide into poverty.

Police statistics show a 20% increase in suicide rates since the outbreak of Greece’s debt crisis in late 2009.

The Health Ministry estimated the figure in the first five months of 2011 was double the figure for the first five months of 2010.

Suicide hotlines have been deluged with appeals for help. “Calls have doubled in the last year,” said Eleni Bekiari, a psychiatrist who runs a suicide helpline.

“Economic reasons are invariably cited as the main cause,” she said.


Israel’s daily Haaretz recently carried a suicide report under the headline: “Israeli protester’s self-immolation highlights link between suicide, financial stress”.

The July 16 report by Dan Even said: “The self-immolation of a Haifa man during  a Saturday rally for social justice has put on the public agenda the issue of suicide prompted by financial distress.

“Moshe Silman, a 57-year-old Haifa resident, is being treated at Ichilov Hospital for severe burns after covering himself in gasoline and setting himself on fire in Tel Aviv. Silman had previously suffered a stroke that left him unemployed and rejected by public housing authorities.”

Israel’s suicide figures rose from 326 in 2007 to 404 in 2009, but there are no statistics to show whether the increase was related to the economy.

 The low-income coastal towns of Bat Yam and Ashkelon are the cities with the most suicides, according to Haaretz, while Ethiopian immigrants are three times as likely to kill themselves as native Israelis, according to the Health Ministry.

In January 2011 26-year-old Tunisian Mohamed Bouzizi died after setting himself alight in protest against unemployment. His death by self-immolation sparked the overthrow of the Tunisian regime and launched the “Arab Spring”.

In Israel, the Netanyahu government has managed to suppress international coverage of the suicide protest. In any case, “Bibi” has an answer to the social crisis which is ruining the living standards of Israel workers and the country’s middle class. He and his Zionist clique are going to make war on Iran.

No “Arab Spring”, just a very long Israeli Winter.


On July 4 Swedish pranksters dropped hundreds of teddy bears carrying  pro-democracy messages from a plane over Belarus.

The former Soviet republic, now ruled by President Aleksandr Lukashenko, ordered the interlopers to be charged with “illegal crossing” and sought their arrest and extradition.

He also expelled the Swedish ambassador for complicity in the stunt which involved a Stockholm advertising agency, Studio Total.

How did the Swedes respond to the demands? They rejected the summons out of hand.

The decision is commendable. No government would willingly hand its citizens over to the tender mercies of the loathsome Lukashenko dictatorship.

At the same time, Sweden is acting as an accomplice of Washington to make sure Julian Assange is “rendered” to the US where he faces a treason trial and a lifetime sentence in jail. Do you, like me, detect a double standard in Sweden’s  role?

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