Recession and austerity fuel suicide in Italy—and the collection agency is exacerbating the situation.
In late May, Marco Turrini reached his breaking point. Out of work for more than a year and under pressure from tax collectors, the 41-year-old publicity agent picked up his 4-year-old son, Samuele, and 14-month-old daughter, Benedetta, and threw them out of their sixth-floor window in Brescia, near Milan. He then struggled to push his wife to the same fate. She escaped, but he turned to the window and jumped. He died on impact, but his two young children lived for several long minutes while neighbors tried to save them. The story is tragic, but continues to repeat itself in scenes of desperation across Italy.
Barbie Nadeau on Greece’s election results.
On the afternoon of May 10, Arcangelo Arpino, a 63-year-old entrepreneur from the suburbs of Naples, walked into the mosaic-laden Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary in Pompeii and knelt to pray in front of a painting of a crowned Madonna and child. Then he walked out to the parking lot, sat on a short stone wall, and shot himself in the head with a 7.65 caliber pistol. In his pocket were three sealed envelopes. One was addressed to the Madonna, asking her to look over his wife and children. Another was a memo explaining the complicated economic state of his Euro Costruzioni construction business. The last was to Equitalia, Italy’s national tax-collection agency, blaming them for pushing him over the edge with repeated threats and relentless tax assessments. “This is a difficult moment for so many people,” said Claudio D’Alessio, the mayor of Pompeii. “The mark of blood on the grass is symbolic of the pain this community and country feel. But there are those responsible for killing him—the national government and the regional government helped kill this man. The citizens are at their limit.”
On March 28, Giuseppe Campaniello set himself on fire in front of the Equitalia office in Bologna after he received a final notice about the doubling of a fine he could not pay. He died in a burn ward nine days later. He never had the courage to tell his wife, Tiziana Marrone, about their dire financial straits because of a mix of pride and embarrassment, she says. Marrone found his poignant suicide note: “Dear love, I am here crying. This morning I left a bit early, I wanted to wake you, say goodbye, but you were sleeping so well I was afraid to wake you. Today is an ugly day. I ask forgiveness from everyone … A kiss to you all. I love you, Giuseppe.”