Thursday, November 22, 2012

Greek Pensioner Stopped Before Suicide Over Pension Cuts

Greek pensioner stopped before suicide over pension cuts

Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:40PM GMT

Greek police have stopped and arrested a pensioner who nearly set himself on fire over the increase in pension cuts by the government.

The 62-year-old pensioner had poured petroleum over his body and was ready to engulf himself in flames while holding a petrol tank and a flare gun on Thursday.

The incident ended after two hours of police negotiations inside a state finance office in Greece’s northern city of Thessaloniki.

Reporters say a woman was in the building at the time and stayed there for the duration of the incident; however, it is unclear whether she was a hostage or a bystander.

Police have not released the identity of the man.

Greeks planning to kill themselves have in recent years tended to pick locations situated around or even inside banks and tax offices. The trend leans toward the elderly who have given up on their financial struggles as they start to feel the bite of pension cuts and tax rises.

In April, an elderly Greek pharmacist committed suicide when he shot himself with a hunting rifle in Athens’ central Syntagma Square outside the parliament. He wrote his reasons on a note stating his pensions had been wiped out.

Suicides in Greece have doubled since the country plunged into recession in 2008 and recent austerity measures have increased pressure on the elderly with up to 40 percent reduction in pensions and salaries.

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