Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What you can learn from the wave of suicides in Europe (Part 1 of 6)

At the time of this writing, newspapers are reporting a wave of suicides in Europe. The Irish Times published on 14 April 2012 a detailed account of how the economic crisis is pushing many businessmen to take their own lives. 

Even the New York Times devoted a long article that week to the problem and presented the testimony of family members of several men who had recently killed themselves.
The death of Giovanni Schiavone, an entrepreneur who committed suicide in Padua at the end of 2011, constitutes the archetype of those who have seen no other option than putting an end to their days. 

Mr. Schiavone had lived through much better times in the recent past, and now he was being forced to face overwhelming financial pressures and to witness the destruction of the enterprise that he had fought so hard to create.

A good part of the men who have killed themselves were owners of small companies, artisans and merchants that could not withstand the shame of being unable to pay their creditors and employees, or the loss of reputation associated with insolvency or bankruptcy. 

On many occasions, the financial difficulties were compounded by family and health problems. All factors combined, the psychological pressure had become irresistible. In Greece, for instance, the number of suicides is reported to have almost doubled since 2010, when the economic downturn began.

The suicide reports are however surprising if you place them into a wider context. While the number of cases in Europe has increased dramatically during the last two years, very few of the concerned persons are reported to have been terminally sick or desperately poor. Despite the widespread financial struggles, very few people in Europe actually go hungry or have to sleep on the street.

To be continued in the next post


[Image by Mike Boehmer under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]