Greece: Small bondholder takes his own life

Association representing small bondholders says that the man's death brings to 17 the number of small bondholders who have ended their lives since the 2012 haircut, which wiped out 75% of their investment

A bondholder holds a sign as he takes part in a protest outside the central Bank of Greece in October 2012 (Photo: Reuters) A Thessaloniki man who was one of the estimated 15,000 small Greek bondholders that suffered losses under the country's debt restructuring in 2012 took his own life on Tuesday evening, the day before his 57th birthday.

The so-called haircut, which wiped out the life savings of many, left the man in a dire financial situation, according to his widow. 

On Thursday, an association representing small bondholders said that the man's death has brought to 17 the number of small bondholders who have taken their lives since the haircut. 

His wife discovered his body on Wednesday hanging from a tree in a small woods near a the village of Sozopoli, outside Thessaloniki, where they maintained a family home. He had travelled to the village the day before.

"He had indicated several times that he wanted to put an end to his life. I didn't believe that my husband could do this ... He said it, he mimicked it, but I never thought he would do it," his wife, Antigoni Karasavva, told the news site.

She said he was a "victim of the country's economic crisis", someone "who believed the Greek state, invested his money in the Greek state, believing it was more secure than the banks". The March 2012 haircut plunged him into a deep depression, she added.

Laying the blame for her husband's death squarely the government, who she accused of robbing the country, Karasavva said: "I might also get my turn on that tree. But right now I have become a mother and a father and have become strong so that I can support my child."

As a result of the March 2012 haircut, Greece reduced its public debt by about €100bn. Private creditors swapped government bonds for new ones, incurring a 53.5% nominal writedown, with the remaining value being paid out with maturities of up to 30 years, by which time most of the bondholders, many of them pensioners, will have died. 

Small investors were estimated to own bonds worth €2.3bn in total, with most worth holding between €5,000 and €150,000 worth. In real terms, the small bondholders say they have lost more than 75% of their investment. 

* Klimaka runs a suicide prevention helpline at 1018