Tragedy struck Thursday morning in the center of Athens when a mother and son leapt to their deaths. Kathimerini newspaper reports that sixty-year-old Antonis Perris, a musician, and his ninety-year-old mother jumped off the 5th floor of their apartment building. Though the police have not released an official explanation, the suicide has been attributed to the pair's dire financial state.
The two lived together on the mother's 340 Euro ($427) pension, as Perris had been unable to find employment in the last two years. On Wednesday night, Perris took to a popular Internet blogging site, stoixoi.info, to express his despair. According to a HuffPost translation, he wrote:
"I have been taking care of my 90-year-old mother for 20 years. In the last 3-4 years she has developed Alzheimer's, recently she also has been having Schizophrenic fits amongst her other grave health problems, so nursing homes won't accept her.
The problem is that the economic crisis came about so fast that I didn't have the foresight to save enough money in my account. Though I have some assets and I'm selling whatever I can, I have run out of money and we can no longer afford to eat... I now constantly live a tragic life.
Unfortunately, I have also developed serious health problems lately. I have no solution in front of me. Some assets, but no money -- Is it possible to live this way without food? Do any of you know of the answer?..."
The double-suicide is the latest in a troubling trend sweeping the country. Extreme financial difficulties coupled with high unemployment and a sense of hopelessness have driven suicides up a staggering 22% between 2009 and 2011, according to Greece-based news agency AMNA.
Strikingly, Greece had one of the lowest suicide rates in the world before the start of the crisis. In an interview with CNN, an official from Klimaka, an NGO that runs a suicide prevention hotline, said, "The social framework in Greece has become pathogenic -- we have a morbid social environment where one of its symptoms is suicide."