Monday, July 13, 2015

GREECE - Economic Crisis, Life and Death

"Why the Greek crisis is a matter of life and death for some" PBS NewsHour 7/7/2015


SUMMARY:  Greece traditionally has had a low suicide rate, but over five years of austerity, the country has seen an increase in the number of people taking their own lives.  And if the crisis gets worse, the number of suicides and other preventable deaths from lack of medical care or drugs is likely to rise.  Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Athens.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  Now another look at Greece, this time how its strained economy is affecting its people.

For the first four months of 2014, the budget for Greece’s 132 hospitals was $735 million.  This year, that number dropped to $50 million, a precipitous decline that has placed predictable stress on the nation’s medical system.  Now psychiatrists and other medical practitioners warn that deepening poverty will lead to an increase in suicides and preventable deaths.

NewsHour special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Athens.

MALCOLM BRABANT (NewsHour):  It’s a letter that no one should have to read.  The suicide note left by 77-year-old pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas is now a treasured possession of his daughter, Emmy.

EMMY CHRISTOULAS, Daughter of Suicide Victim (through interpreter):  “If one Greek was to take up a Kalashnikov, I would be the second.  But since I am too old to react actively and physically, I find no other solution than that of a dignified exit before I begin searching through the garbage for my food.  I believe that, one day, because the younger generation have no future, they will take up arms and hang the traitors of the nation, just as the Italians did in 1945.”

MALCOLM BRABANT:  Christoulas shot himself beneath this pine tree in Athens’ Syntagma Square, where opponents urged Greek voters to reject the international austerity program in last weekend’s referendum.

One of the first on the scene was doorman Panos Kyriakopoulos

PANOS KYRIAKOPOULOS (through interpreter):  Everyone who works around here was dreadfully upset, as well as those who were passing by.  It was so unexpected, a man blowing out his brains in Syntagma Square.  It was terrible, just terrible.

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