A German state finance minister was found dead in a suspected suicide – with a colleague blaming ‘overwhelming’ worries about the coronavirus.
Thomas Schaefer, 54, was found dead on railway tracks at Hochhein, near Frankfurt, on Saturday.
State governor Volker Bouffier linked the dad-of-two’s death to Covid-19, suggesting he was “in despair” over what the disease has done to the economy.
Police and prosecutors believe Schaefer, a member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, killed himself.
In a statement, Bouffier said: “We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all we are immensely sad.”
Have you been affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Email [email protected]
Thomas Schaefer was said to be struggling with how to deal with the crisis
He added that his colleague struggled with how to deal with the crisis and was concerned “whether it would be possible to succeed in fulfilling the population’s huge expectations, particularly of financial help.”
“I have to assume that these worries overwhelmed him,” Mr Bouffier said.
“He apparently couldn’t find a way out. He was in despair and left us.”
Meanwhile, Chancellor Merkel’s chief of staff said Germany will not loosen its restrictions on public life before April 20.
German authorities closed non-essential shops and banned gatherings of more than two people in public at the beginning of last week. Schools, bars, restaurants and clubs are also closed.
Bouffier was said to be ‘in despair’ over what the disease has done to the economy
Mrs Merkel’s chief of staff Helge Braun told the daily Tagesspiegel that “we are not going to talk about any easing before April 20 – until then, all measures will remain in place”.
He said that officials will say “in a timely manner before then” what will happen after that date.
Mr Braun said that “the older and the sick will have to reduce their contacts for significantly longer”.
Germany has recorded more than 50,000 cases of the new coronavirus, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, with 455 deaths – a lower death rate than in many other countries.
Ms Merkel is believed to be working from home after going into self-isolation due to a doctor who examined her contracting coronavirus.
If you’re struggling and need to talk, the Samaritans operates a free helpline open 24/7 on 116 123. Alternatively, you can email [email protected] if you’d prefer to write down how you feel. You are not alone.