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Athens: Police takes suicide survivor to prosecutor for €250-debt from 32 years ago

In the late hours of Friday, January 25th 2013, a man around his 60’s, drawn in debts and desperation, decided to put an end to his life: to hang himself with a chain. While struggling on the very thin line between life and death, the chain broke. Under a heavy shock, the man called a popular live television show and asked for help. “Fws sto tunel” presenter Aggeliki Nikolouli, who deals with missing persons and cold police cases, made an appeal to the show’s volunteers to rush to Kolonos district of Athens and offer aid and support to the desperate man.

 Also an employee at Athens municipality responded to the appeal.

But then the unbelievable happened: instead of taking the man to a hospital to get first aid and psychological support, the municipality policeman took him to the …prosecutor. The broke man had a debt of 250 euro to the state, a debt that was filed 32 years ago!!!

The suicide survivor had to spend the night in a police station cell. Next morning in court, the prosecutor found out that the debt was cancelled due to time limitation. The man was set free.

According to information, the economic situation of the man was hopeless, with his landlord to be threatening him with eviction. He was managing to survive due to soup kitchen meals offered by the church. 

After his failed attempt and his release, the man is being taken care of by a charity organisation.

 

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4 comments

  1. i don’t buy it – why would this guy commit suicide over debts yet then be taken to the prosecutor for only 250 euros?
    also, why call a popular tv station following one’s failed suicide attempt?

  2. keeptalkinggreece

    it happened that I saw both live shows, which would never claim that is no true due to the very sensitive issues it deals with…
    maybe he had nobody else to call for help?

  3. @Jason
    First of all, it is not necessarily a given that the debts which triggered the suicide attempt were debts to the municipality, so they would not issue any proceedings over them. They could very well be bank debts, arrears in rent, etc. It is up to those the debt is owed to to start proceedings (or work out some more humane solution maybe?), which the municipality in all its eagerness did…

    Secondly, extreme poverty and distress does very strange things to ones mind, including total self-isolation from family and friends. In most cases of suicide the act is done not to escape ones own problems, but to prevent the loved ones from becoming burdened with them. If you ever have access to suicide notes (I don’t wish it one you!), then that becomes very obvious. Reasons given are usually something like “I can’t provide for my family anymore”, or, as that lost soul said to his wife a few months ago “I am nothing, I have nothing left to offer” (meaning, if I stay I’ll be a burden to you).

    If it wasn’t for TV shows like this one, or for organizations like the Samaritans, or websites like http://www.spunout.ie there would be many, many more suicides than what are happening these days.

    It’s not a matter of “buying it”, it’s a matter of facing todays’ reality and possibly doing your bit to at least try and reverse a very, very sad situation. A situation brought about by the “wealth-preserving” policies imposed by governments world-wide…