Retired Pharmacist Kills Himself in Athens Over Debt

A 77-year-old retired pharmacist shot himself in the head on Wednesday in Athens’ central Syntagma Square just outside the building where Greece’s Parliament meets. The man killed himself around 9 am outside the Syntagma metro station as dozens of commuters were crossing the square, where Greeks have been demonstrating to protest the repeated rounds of austerity measures passed by the government.

The man’s identity was not yet been revealed. Eyewitnesses said they heard him cry out that he did not want to leave his children in debt as he shot himself. An ambulance took him to a hospital but he was already dead.

Another Greek daily,, quoted a note that the man wrote in red ink about how the “occupation government” of Georgios Tsolakoglou had “annihilated every trace of my survival.” Tsolakoglou was a Greek military officer who was the first Prime Minister of the Greek collaborationist government when the Nazis occupied the country in 1941 – 1942; the man’s reference to him perhaps suggests the lingering enmity felt in Greece towards Germany. The man also wrote:

“I cannot find another way to react other than a decent end before I start looking in the garbage to survive and become a burden for my child. “

The Greek daily Kathimerini reports that people have been leaving notes and flowers on the tree near where the man shot himself. “Do not get used to death” (να μη συνηθίσουμε τον θάνατο), said one note.

While the suicide rate in Greece has been lower than the average in Europe, the years of economic crisis — in which many have lost jobs and seen their pensions and salaries cut by up to 40 percent– are certainly taking their toll. According to unofficial data, the suicide rate in Greece has increased by 25% in 2010; suicides had previously risen by 17% in 2009 from 2007. Agence France-Presse via Raw Story also says that, on Tuesday, a 38-year-old Albanian man took his own life by jumping off his balcony on the island of Crete; he had reportedly been facing financial hardship.

In Athens, 1 in 11 people have been standing in line at soup kitchensGovernment spending on health has been reduced by 13 percent in the past two years and hospitals have seen their budgets cut by 40 percent. There is now a shortage of nurses and long waits for procedures including breast cancer surgery and heart bypass operations; some 30 percent of Greeks are now turning to free clinics that had before only offered medical care for immigrants.

As Greece enters its fifth year of recession, over a million are unemployed, nearly a quarter of the population, and more than half of those in their 20s have no jobs.

As another retiree, Stavros Efstathiou, told Kathimerini, ”frustration knows no bounds.”


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Photo of Syntagma Square by UggBoy♥UggGirl [ PHOTO // WORLD // TRAVEL ]


Christina B.
Christina B5 years ago

I am Greek. That tragic, tragic event shocked the public opinion in Greece.

Unfortunately, it didn't shock us hard enough to make us take to the streets and demand our dignity back.

Things are REALLY bad.

Christine Stewart

I was saddened to hear that this man was so distraught that suicide seemed like his best option...

Nadine Hudak
Nadine H5 years ago


Jonathan Netherton

In Tunisia a man killed himself at the indignity forced on him by uncaring autocrats saying they knew what was best. Now Greece has one free man to rally behind and remember that sometimes the king just has to be pulled down.

Bruce K.
Bruce K5 years ago

I would like to see an article on the economic effect on suicide in the United States in the past few years has been

TERRANCE N5 years ago

Putting their citizens in debt has become a tactic used by countries to control it's citizens. All you hear from the front running presidential candidates, including president Obama, is how unsustainable the debt and deficit is. Then they recommend "needed adjustments" to "entitlements".

Strangely how "entitlements to military, oil companies, and other giveaways to corporations and the rich are seldom mentioned. Especially not by the republicans. The only reason president Obama mentions tax loophole giveways is because occupy Wallstreet has been so vocal and he is in reelection mode.

Ang H.
angie Harper5 years ago

I have a great affinity for the Greek people, they are fun, welcoming, and the majority are kind, good individuals who welcome a stranger to their home, irrespective of funds, and turn out their cupboards of food.
I worked there for 3 years around the time of the junta there in the early 70's.
I cannot imagine how many people are living, and it breaks my heart to hear such a story, what thoughts and worries a poor old man had in his head and his heart to do such a thing.
Bless your soul, and be in peace. These corrupt people who took 3 or 4 salaries in Government instead of one, the greedy bankers in Greece, UK and USA, they all have blood on their greasy,money grabbing hands but when they meet their maker they will get their just reward.....

Tim C.
Tim C5 years ago


Marlene Dinkins