Europe

Greeks on unrest after pensioner suicide

Protesters clashed with riot police in Athens after a pensioner shot himself dead outside the Greek parliament. Greek media report that in a suicide note, the man accused the government of reducing his pension to nothing.

Depression and suicides are reported to have increased as the country introduces tough austerity measures. Here three Greek people talk about their experiences and reflect on the death of the pensioner.

Alexandros Semeloglou, 31, unemployed journalist, Athens, Greece

I'm 31. I lost my job two months ago. I've lost my hope ever since.

Image caption Mr Semeloglou is thinking of leaving the country

I'm a freelancer and I expected it to happen. I know I won't be hungry as my family are supporting me. But I know there are many other people who don't have that support. So I guess I'm lucky.

Even if I find a job, I will have to work for more hours and I won't have the same money. For now I have my own apartment, but I won't be able to afford it forever and I may have to move in with my parents.

I was working for 10 years before I lost my job, so I have a lot of experience. But now this advantage is useless because there are not enough jobs. I'm planning to leave the country and probably go to Germany.

Do you have any idea how it feels to live in a city where everybody is depressed? Walk through the streets and see nothing but stressed faces and people struggling.

Most of my friends have the same problems. The same topics come up when we talk - it's about losing jobs, about lack of money, about not being able to pay the rent, or not being able to pay for petrol.

The most depressing thing is that nobody can give the answer if the situation will end in five years, or 10 years. So you can't make plans for the future.

The death of the pensioner should have an effect on society - it's a signal that enough is enough. But I don't think it will change government policy.

Konstantinos Toulitsis, 41, car importer Chalcis, Greece

Image caption Mr Toulitsis says more people are killing themselves

Austerity measures have destroyed the retail and wholesale market of every industry in Greece.

In the automotive industry we face a 90% reduction in our annual turnover over the last two years, and large scale bankruptcy. The government has piled taxes onto cars, meaning that people have simply stopped buying or driving cars. This has pushed tens of thousands of people into unemployment.

On Wednesday we experienced a tragic suicide which plunged the country in grief. But there are other suicides happening because of the pressures of society. Last Saturday two people committed suicide.

These days you see Greek people trying to find food in the rubbish. Every day butchers are preserving the leftovers for poor families.

People around me have changed their lifestyle, their social life doesn't exist any more because they can't go out. They are also buying cheaper food.

If this continues we will see automotive businesses going bankrupt, more unemployment. Many friends have left for other countries such as Sweden or Germany.

After the death of the pensioner, I think demonstrations will continue. And as more fall into poverty we may see things that Europe hasn't experienced since the World War II.

Rania Chiotini, 26, teacher, Chios island, Greece

Image caption Ms Chiotini says the majority of young people in Greece are depressed

I work as a teacher in Chios island. I have seen something like a 40% cut in my salary over a couple of years. But rent is still high, petrol is expensive and taxes have gone up.

After rent and petrol costs I have about 300 euros left to pay the bills, buy food and to see the doctor.

Imagine living like this in a place where a coffee costs four euros, eating a pizza 13 euros and milk 1.5 euros for two pints. I try to spend my money only on food - no clothes, no shoes or other things I don't need. I fear that if I get a serious medical problem then I'll have to get help from my parents or friends.

I live on my own with no children, so I am one of the lucky ones as I don't have anyone else to support.

The young people I know feel depressed. Even though they are teachers, the majority of them think that getting married and having a family could be very difficult. They can't even imagine having children in 10 years' time.

It's not surprising that there have been protests after the death of the pensioner, as protests are happening all the time. My parents live in Athens, and when I return I feel shocked. It's becoming like a wild place, with homeless people on the streets and people looking through the trash for food.

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