The economic suicides of the European Union

TREVISO, Italy —One month  earlier, Giovanni Schiavon, 59, a contractor, shot himself in the head at the headquarters of his debt-ridden construction company on the outskirts of Padua. As he faced the bleak prospect of ordering Christmas layoffs at his family firm of two generations, he wrote a last message: “Sorry, I cannot take it anymore.”

The economic downturn that has shaken Europe for the last three years has also swept away the foundations of once-sturdy lives, leading to an alarming spike in suicide rates. Especially in the most fragile nations like Greece, Ireland and Italy, small-business owners and entrepreneurs are increasingly taking their own lives in a phenomenon some European newspapers have started calling “suicide by economic crisis.”

Many, like Mr. Tamiozzo and Mr. Schiavon, have died in obscurity. Others, like the desperate 77-year-old retiree who shot himself outside the Greek Parliament on April 4, have turned their personal despair into dramatic public expressions of anger at the leaders who have failed to soften the blows of the crisis.

A complete picture of the phenomenon across Europe is elusive, as some countries lag in reporting statistics and coroners are loath to classify deaths as suicides, to protect surviving family members. But it is clear that countries on the front line of the economic crisis are suffering the worst, and that suicides among men have increased the most.

In Greece, the suicide rate among men increased more than 24 percent from 2007 to 2009, government statistics show. In Ireland during the same period, suicides among men rose more than 16 percent. In Italy, suicides motivated by economic difficulties have increased 52 percent, to 187 in 2010 — the most recent year for which statistics were available — from 123 in 2005.

Researchers say the trend has intensified this year as government austerity measures took hold and compounded the hardships for many. While suicides often have many complex causes, researchers have found that severe economic stress corresponds to higher suicide rates.

“Financial crisis puts the lives of ordinary people at risk, but much more dangerous is when there are radical cuts to social protection,” said David Stuckler, a sociologist at the University of Cambridge, who led a study published in The Lancet that found a sharp rise in suicides across Europe, particularly in seriously affected countries like Greece and Ireland from 2007 to 2009, years that coincided with the downturn.

“Austerity can turn a crisis into an epidemic,” Mr. Stuckler added.

Veneto, a region that was the engine of Italy’s economic growth in the 1990s, has been especially hard hit. In this part of the country, which includes the cities of Treviso, Vicenza and Padua, more than 30 small-business people have committed suicide in the last three years for reasons tied to their work as the area has been whipsawed by global trends including a drop in industrial orders, competition from China and tight bank credit.

Though the phenomenon has been particularly acute in the region, it has recently spread to Bologna, Catania and Rome.

In Rome this month, Mario Frasacco, 59, whose company made aluminum fixtures, killed himself, much to the shock of Rome’s small-business association, where he had been a board member. Other members were surprised when he suddenly canceled a business trip with them to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, scheduled for May.

“Now, unfortunately, we sadly understand the probable reason why,” Erino Colombi, the association’s president, said in a statement. The association has organized a candlelight vigil on Wednesday to honor the victims of the economic crisis in Rome.

In Ireland, the phenomenon has been linked to what some therapists call Celtic Tiger depression, the period after 2008 characterized by an influx of middle-aged male patients who complained about sleeplessness and a lack of appetite in the aftermath of that nation’s destructive boom-and-bust real estate market.

To search for answers, researchers for the National Suicide Research Foundation in Cork interviewed surviving relatives of 190 people who committed suicide in County Cork during the turbulent period from 2008 to March 2011.

The list of people who take their life in Italy is growing every day more and more it seems that these gestures are associated with extreme financial difficulties resulting from the economic crisis.

For weeks, the Italian media report almost daily suicide. A few days ago the news of two men who set themselves on fire has shocked public opinion. A Mason cinquantottenne himself on fire in his car in Bologna, after having left several farewell letters. The man was gone before the court for an alleged tax evasion of about 125,000 francs. Just days after a construction worker in Verona Moroccan himself on fire in the street.

He made noise also the case in Sicily of a retired seventy-eight who took her own life for the economic difficulties. The elderly lady living in Gela has jumped from the balcony of his apartment after learning that his pension had been reduced to 240 francs.

Appeal to the solidarity fund

Under the pressure of the crisis that has lasted since 2008, the number of suicides in Italy rises dramatically. According to data from artisanal association CGIA (Small Business Association of Craftsmen Mestre, ndt) between 2008 and 2010 the number of suicides linked to financial problems has risen by 24.6 percent. The attempted suicides rose 20 percent.

Only in 2011 have killed over 1000 workers and entrepreneurs, 24 percent more than in 2008. The association has appealed to the government of technicians in Rome because it is set up a solidarity fund for the support of the Italians who are in difficulty because of the crisis.

Accusations against the  Monti’s government

Antonio Di Pietro, leader of the center “Italy of Values” (IDV), believed responsible for the suicide of despair Prime Minister Mario Monti and his strict austerity policy. “A growing number of Italians he is without economic means.Monti those deaths on his conscience, “said Di Pietro. His words provoked sharp criticism in government.

The association Federcontribuenti instructed the judiciary to Rome to investigate at least 18 cases of suicide have occurred since the beginning of the year. Carmelo Finocchiaro, president, has accused the government of having “only in recent months introduced new taxes and nothing else.” The Inland Revenue do not seem to distinguish between tax payers and people who are insolvent for economic reasons.

in practice – and this is evident from the behavior dramatically, even extreme,entrepreneurs and investors – lebanche not grant more loans. Precisely for this reason also increased the percentage of those who have tried to contactothers to get credit, you have more than doubled: from 17% in 2007 to 35% in 2010.

Difficulties, such, paving the way for even more perverse forms of access to credit according to the Taxpayers Association of Italians in fact, between 2010and 2011 increased by 217% families in a situation of over-indebtedness and148% of cases wear, are more than three million families considered at risk.Findings from the Bank of Italy for the second quarter of 2012 show thatusurious interest rates, depending on the type of transaction, arriving at 22%, compared with maximum average rates of around 14%.

People steal in supermarkets by starvation. It is now a national emergency such as suicide without work, but it is estimated that every day in Italy could be fed 630,000 people just in time recovering food that supermarkets can not sell before maturity. And the food supply chain has lots more other types of waste even more colossal.

Only a small part of the food coming to maturity are taken to the recovery of non-profit organization like the Food Bank. The rest is thrown away, the face of the crisis and hungry, because (apart from rare exceptions and bright) to all the mayors think except to organize the logistics of recovery: and you can not just leave it to the solution of a national emergency volunteer .

A news emblematic, one of those news that bring goosebumps, comes from Rovigo. Two women have trouble because they spent the night surprises in the courtyard of a supermarket, looking for food among the garbage trucks that would have withdrawn the next day: food just expired, or maybe even great but now it unsaleable ‘use by’ that same day. As we know, been heeded the call (sacred) addressed to the mayor in the wake of this episode: join to Last Minute Market, a spin off from the University of Bologna. It is a sort of central mail: connects those who possess good but unmarketable food (usually because it is due to expire) with organizations that can distribute to the needy.

But to join the Last Minute Market is only the first step, then you need to send people in the car (or refrigerated vans) in the right place at the right time and with very little notice. Finally you have someone very quickly, distributes food to those who can not otherwise procure. A municipality is able to do it? In these terms not (in fact they do the volunteers, a drop in the ocean). But a municipality, if desired, set up an organizational machine capable of draining the sea of this obscene waste. Just that, in the town hall, create an appropriate control room: to retrieve and distribute the food there are legions of unemployed, however, after all, would be entitled to receive two pounds of reimbursement not only for cars and gasoline, but in exchange for the services. In fact in turn should keep constantly available, ready to go as soon as the call arrives.

Imagine if the system be extended to all unopened containers of food – every single day and in every place – are routinely advanced by canteens of schools, businesses, hospitals. Vegetables and fruit to the supermarket and the market did not even see: and not because rotten or bruised but only because small, stortignaccoli, ugly. And the leftovers from restaurants, then, should be good for the dog kennel, whose maintenance is the responsibility of the municipal coffers. The result would be perfect. Resetting waste, pantry stocked for those who suffer from hunger, slimming the landfill and the waste collection service, to those who have little in income tax return.

Only that to make an organizational machine of the kind it takes an investment. A small investment of public money. But the markets are asking austerity, not spending. Thus, while politicians scialano in spades and keep their fees as an oyster clinging to a rock, people steal from hunger every day in supermarkets alone, throw away enough food to feed 630,000 people.

In this context, how is it possible to evaluate the performance of Monti’s team? Among those who accused the “government banks” to encouragebanks and large corporations and who welcomes the simplification ofprocedures for starting a business and for helping businesses in difficulty, the judgment was not unanimous. Certainly have been successful, at least in part,the pressures from financial lobbies, as evidenced by the robust support forcredit institutions, the government guarantee on liabilities of Italian banks under Article 8, the limit of $ 1000 in cash payments, with a consequent increase of the operations of virtual currency.
Surely have been accepted by the Government Monti, at least in part, the pressures from financial lobbies…

Additional Incentives for the recruitment of women and under 35, 1.2 billion to refinance the guarantee fund for small and medium enterprises, reducing the administrative burden on granted by Article 40, seem to go in the direction of granting assistance to those most debolidell’economia Italian.But do they have in common these two groups of measures? Simply said: they both have the goal of restoring the conditions upon which the system just went into crisis. This goal is pursued by a hand through the restoration of the functionality of the main architects of the virtualization of the economy – banks – and the mechanism of debt, while the other hinges on the revival of production and consumption. Emblematic in this sense is the measure on liberalization, which has no other purpose than to encourage the Italians to re-embrace the style of unbridled consumption and disproportionate to the real possibility – but not virtual ones – in their economic situation.A middle course must be identified: the dramatic and urgent difficulties facing millions of Italians, whose economic problems are often a glimpse of the 31 months as a mirage, can not wait for the time required for a smooth transition from a system of debt more sustainable, that you get based on real assets. It is also equally true that this system has already proved unsustainable and – as will happen sooner or later in other areas, such as energy to the environment – must be started as soon as possible unatransizione conscious and shared.Otherwise we will have to resign ourselves to a violent collapse, which, unfortunately, involve not only the movement of the Italian socio-economic world, but also the most healthy, represented by small investors, craftsmen, employees and the honest workers who, despite themselves, are increasingly forced more often to play the role of victims. Now it is a matter of life or death, and not just metaphorically.

Murdoch: ‘Calling Monti for growth and real leadership’

“The appeal of Monti for growth is a demonstration of true leadership.” While inItaly the majority in parliament seems to be detached from the caretaker government, an open support comes from abroad, the Prime Minister Mario Monti.

James Murdoch

 To do this is, surprisingly, the publishing magnate Rupert Murdoch.

In a post this morning on Twitter, the chairman of News Corporation has welcomed the commitment of Professor at the nodes of the international political and economic debate. “Does anyone think the terrible statistics on employmentin the U.S. yesterday and elections in France? – Murdoch wrote on Twitter -Monti’s call for growth is demonstrating true leadership.”


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