Italy suicide wave shows no sign of slowing

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A protest was sparked in the town of Ercolano after the suicide of a local florist. Photo: Shii/Wikicommons
10:43 CEST+02:00
The growing number of Italians committing suicide as the economic crisis tightens its grip is showing no sign of abating.

Antonio Formicola, a florist from Ercolano near Naples, set himself alight before jumping from the first-floor balcony of his local town hall, according to Italian press reports.

The father-of-two was well known in the town as he had helped to plan local events and supported public initiatives, La Repubblica reported.

In a further tragic turn of events, a passer-by was injured by a fire extinguisher after it was thrown by someone on another balcony in an attempt to help the florist.  The passer-by, known as Rocco, suffered concussion and a severe cut to the head.

The double tragedy sparked a protest against the government outside the town hall.

It seems Formicola’s frustration reached a tipping point after councillors told him he couldn’t display his merchandise outside his shop.

Formicola’s daughter, Maria Assunta, told La Repubblica that work was her father’s life. 

“My father had time for everyone and everything, especially for politics and the local council,” she added. “He paid all his taxes so could not understand why they wouldn’t allow him to display some of his produce outside his shop.”

Italy’s suicide rate has risen between 20 and 30 percent over the past four years, the most recent figures from the Observatory of Health show

The majority have been among the older generation, but there has been a more recent rise in suicide or suicide attempts among 20 and 30 year olds

An indebted 35-year-old man from Turin took his own life on Sunday after struggling to find a job, while a 26-year-old university graduate who threw himself from a balcony in Rome at the end of May is in hospital after suffering serious spinal injuries.

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In May, a man in Sicily who was €10,000 in debt set himself on fire, while another from Avellino, in the Campania region, also killed himself over debt.

Italian president Giorgio Napolitano last month called on the government to try to stop the wave of suicides among the rising number of unemployed and indebted businesspeople in Italy.

Figures released last month showed unemployment had reached a record high of 12 percent in April, while 31,000 businesses closed down during the first quarter of this year.

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