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Greek Woman Threatens Suicide As Austerity Cuts Take Job Away

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An employee of the state-owned Labour Housing Organisation (OEK) allegedly threatens to jump off the company building in Athens on February 15, 2012, after the government decided to shut down the organization and lay off its staff. (Getty)
An employee of the state-owned Labour Housing Organisation (OEK) allegedly threatens to jump off the company building in Athens on February 15, 2012, after the government decided to shut down the organization and lay off its staff. (Getty)

Greek austerity measures, the necessary price of a European Union bailout, have already taken a toll on the lives of the debt-ridden country's population.

That pain was plain for all to see when a Greek woman named Lambrousi Harikleia and her husband, both of whom work for a soon-to-be shutdown state agency, climbed onto the balcony of their workplace Wednesday and threatened to jump, according to Athens News.

After the begging of firemen, policemen, and a special negotiator to step down, the husband climbed back into the building, according to Athens News. Hours later, the woman relented as well.

Greece is currently struggling to convince the EU and IMF that it will follow through on an austerity package that its parliament passed on Sunday, a necessary step in order to receive a $170 billion bailout that will likely allow the country to avoid default.

But as Greece's public sector cuts back, its citizens have felt the pain. That's been made clear by a slew of protests earlier this week, when protesters destroyed parts of banks, hotels and stores alike.

Many desperate Greeks have already taken their lives as Greece cuts government spending. The suicide rate in Greece spiked 40 percent in the first half of 2011, according to Greek government data cited by the Wall Street Journal. To take one example, Vaggelis Petrakis, who was burdened with debt, killed himself because of his "shame," "pride," and "dignity," his son told the WSJ.

In a separate incident, a 55-year-old man set himself on fire outside a Greek bank after failing to renegotiate the debts he could not pay, according to Reuters.

Greek economy continues to flounder, contracting 7 percent at the end of last year, with the unemployment rate hovering above 20 percent, according to Bloomberg News. It's not just workers struggling either: A quarter of all Greek businesses have gone out of business since 2009, according to The New York Times.

Despite austerity measures, even the deficit has been growing as lower incomes lead to lower tax revenues: The Greek budget deficit grew 15 percent during the first nine months of 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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