6 Apr 2012

Clashes in Athens after pensioner's suicide

6:09 am on 6 April 2012

Protesters have clashed with riot police in Athens, hours after a pensioner shot himself dead outside the Greek parliament.

The 77-year-old man, killed himself in the city's busy Syntagma Square overnight.

In a suicide note reported by Greek media, he accused the government of reducing his pension to nothing.

In the note, found by police and reported by Athens News, he said: "The government has annihilated all traces for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone paid for 35 years with no help from the state.

"And since my advanced age does not allow me a way of dynamically reacting... I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life, so I don't find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance."

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos issued a statement calling the death "tragic".

The BBC reports that flowers have been laid at the spot where he died and tributes paid online.

Hundreds of demonstrators then gathered in the square outside parliament, the scene of many large protests in recent months.

Violence erupted, with petrol bombs hurled at police, who fired tear gas in response.

Depression and suicides are reported to have increased in Greece as the country introduces tough austerity measures to deal with huge debts.