German State Finance Minister commits suicide over coronavirus crisis

Thomas Schafer, the state finance minister of Germany’s Hesse state committed suicide after becoming “deeply worried” over how to cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

Schaefer, 54, was found dead near a railway track on Saturday. Police and prosecutors said that factors including the questioning of witnesses and their own observations at the scene led them to conclude that Schaefer killed himself.

“We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all we are immensely sad,” state premier Volker Bouffier said in a recorded statement.

“I have to assume that these worries overwhelmed him,” Bouffier added. “He apparently couldn’t find a way out. He was in despair and left us.”

Germany’s federal and state governments have drawn up huge aid packages to cushion the blow of largely shutting down public life to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Germany has risen to more than 60,000 and 482 people have died of the disease.

The relatively low death rate in comparison to other European countries, such as Italy or Spain, led to a discussion on the numbers of recorded and unrecorded cases, including their age distributions, and international differences in the number of intensive care beds with respiratory support.