Italian 78-year-old jumps to death after pension cut

PALERMO, Sicily Tue Apr 3, 2012 1:56pm EDT

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PALERMO, Sicily (Reuters) - A 78-year-old Italian woman leapt to her death from a fourth floor balcony on Tuesday after her pension was cut, police said.

Authorities had recently reduced her monthly pension to 600 euros from 800 and she had become overwhelmed with concern about not being able to make ends meet, her children told local police in Gela, southern Sicily.

Suicide attempts connected to economic woes are reported regularly in Italy, which is struggling with a recession, rising unemployment and increasingly severe austerity measures.

Last week, two men facing financial trouble set themselves on fire in northern Italy in two separate incidents. Both survived, one with severe burns.

On Monday, a picture frame maker on the outskirts of Rome hanged himself due to what he described in a suicide note as "overwhelming economic problems", newspapers reported.

The government is trying to revive growth while also remaining committed to an austerity plan after narrowly averting a Greek-style debt crisis at the end of last year.

It has introduced a series of measures including spending cuts, tax hikes and pension reform and is currently trying to pass an unpopular set of labor reforms that will make it easier for companies to fire employees.

(Reporting By Vladimiro Pantaleone, writing by Catherine Hornby; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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