Once-Prosperous Italian Couple Kills Themselves Amid Austerity Measures

A retired couple in Italy killed themselves Friday after they saw their pensions evaporate and their quality of life plummet as Italy (and Europe as a whole) continues to experience deep economic recession and stagnation.

Romeo Dionisi, 62, was a retired clerk at a shoe company who had become one of the esodati ("exiled ones") who saw their pensions disappear when Italy raised the retirement age by five years as part of austerity measures. His wife, Anna Maria Sopranzi, 68, was a retired artisan and they were both living off of her pension.

Ivo Costamagna, a neighbor and local political figure told CNN that, "With the pension system reform, he [Dionisi] suddenly had five more years of contribution to pay and he lost his serenity. Moreover, according to the new rules it's very difficult to pay your contributions if you don't have a proper work and with the crisis, no one can afford to hire a worker with a proper contract. It's a kind of pincer in which Romeo got trapped."

Adding to the tragedy, on hearing of the deaths of his sister and brother-in-law, Sopranzi's elderly brother killed himself by jumping into the Adriatic. He too had lost his livelihood during the economic stagnation.

Italy, Europe's third-largest economy, saw its economy shrink in the fourth-quarter of 2012 by 0.9%. There has been an uptick in the amount of suicides across the country, as previously middle-class and wealthy Italians have seen their financial security evaporate in just a matter of months. Italy has still not been able to form a coalition government to deal with its economic woes.

The couple hanged themselves, leaving a note to neighbors asking for forgiveness.