Italy suicide wave shows no sign of slowing

The growing number of Italians committing suicide as the economic crisis tightens its grip is showing no sign of abating.

Italy suicide wave shows no sign of slowing
A protest was sparked in the town of Ercolano after the suicide of a local florist. Photo: Shii/Wikicommons

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.

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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New rescue plan sends shares Italy’s oldest bank soaring

Shares in Monte Paschi di Siena (BMPS) soared on the Milan stock exchange Friday, boosted by a possible new lifeline tabled by a veteran Italian banker and Swiss giant UBS.

New rescue plan sends shares Italy's oldest bank soaring
The ancient headquarters of Monte dei Paschi di Siena. Photo:Carlo Hermann/AFP

The stock of BMPS, the world's oldest bank which has become the eurozone banking sector's problem child, rose over 10 percent at the opening on news of the plan, which could turn out to be a welcome alternative to drastic restructuring measures demanded by the European Central Bank.
It settled at €0.31, up 6.5 percent on the day, by mid-morning.
The ECB told BMPS, Italy's third-biggest bank, this month that it must offload €9.6 billion of non-performing assets within two years.
The bank, working with US bank JP Morgan and Italy's Mediobanca, has submitted a plan to shift the bad loans with the help of the Atlante fund, created specifically to take on doubtful banking assets.
The plan also calls for a capital increase of five billion euros to boost capital reserves.
But late Thursday, BMPS said it had received an alternative proposal from Corrado Passera, a former chief executive of the Intesa Sanpaolo bank and ex-minister for economic development and UBS.
The bank's board, which meets on Friday to approve first-half results, will now look closely at the proposal, which came as a complete surprise to financial markets.
“The board quickly launched a series of in-depth preparatory studies” to analyse the proposal, BMPS said.
At the end of that process, it will inform markets of its conclusions, the bank said.
Later on Friday, BMPS will the focal point of stress test results for Europe's top banks to be published by London-based European Banking Authority at 11 PM.
The tests for 51 banks from 15 European countries, representing 70 percent of Europe's banking assets, will be a key measure of the sector's stability.
BMPS, whose stock has fallen by over 80 percent over the past 12 months, is seen as particularly vulnerable.
Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore said BMPS will come out as the worst performer by far among Italy's five major banks.