Here’s John Hooper’s dispatch from Rome:
Behind the woeful statistics lies terrible human suffering, as events in Italy have shown.
Since the beginning of March, four people have committed suicide and two others have set fire to themselves — all, by their own accounts, edged to the point of desperation by a recession that comes on top of more than a decade in which the Italian economy has seen almost no growth.
The latest victim was a 27 year-old Moroccan-born construction worker who set alight his petrol-soaked body in the centre of Verona. He told the Carabinieri who put out the flames he had not been paid for four months, was already eating at a soup kitchen and faced being evicted from his home.
The day before, the owner of a small building firm near Bologna who is in dispute with the tax authorities also set himself on fire, but with more serious consequences. The 58 year-old man, who has not been named, suffered burns to 100 per cent of his body after he ignited his car in front of the tax tribunal where his case was being heard.
On Tuesday, a house painter threw himself to his death in the southern city of Trani. On March 20, two men — an employee who had lost his job and an employer who was unable to collect his debts — both hanged themselves. Eleven days earlier, a 60 year-old shopkeeper from the port city of Taranto also hanged himself after being refused a bank loan.