This blog has a tendency to worship the large picture and to focus on the great issues of the day, with the Euro Crisis as its usual focus. There are times, however, when the small, miniscule picture, some snapshot of one person’s world, offers a stupendously large perspective from which to gather the greater scheme of things. One such snapshot attracted my horrified gaze the other day. It was the image of a disabled 60-year, his corpse dangling from a rocky cliff face in Northern Greece, at an advanced stage of decomposition, suspended by the belt which the deceased had used to hang himself.
The man had been missing since August. His last sighting was at the Social Security Offices (IKA) in a small town called Siatista, where he was told that his small monthly disability allowance of 280 euros was suspended, as a result of the latest austerity measures. Eyewitnesses said, according to Athens daily ‘Ta Nea’, that they saw him leave upset and speechless. Soon after he placed a call to his family telling them that “he feels useless” and adding that he “has nothing to offer them anymore”. Naturally, they were alarmed, and soon after called the police. It was only the other day that the Police located his hanging body in a remote wooded area, suspended by the neck from the cliff which was to be his last resort.
This was, of course, not the first suicide to have come out of the Great Greek Depression of our times. But the fact that it was not meant as a political gesture (unlike the very public suicide of the pharmacist that shook the world), does not make it less poignant. Quiet desperation has a power, a tender despondency, that can pierce the denials of even the most callous of austerians. There is no guarantee of course. At the very least, however, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that they are not shielded from it.