German Finance Minister Kills Himself Over Coronavirus Economic Impact Fears
Thomas Schaefer, 54, found dead on railway tracks at near Frankfurt over weekend
Germany's finance minister has been found dead this weekend after reportedly killing himself over fears of the impact the global coronavirus crisis will have on the German economy, according to reports.
54-year-old Thomas Schaefer was found dead in an apparent suicide on railway tracks at Hochheim, near Frankfurt on Saturday, officials confirmed on Sunday.
Authorities said Schaefer, the minister for the Hesse region and a married father-of-two, appeared to have killed himself, based on eyewitness reports as well as their own observations.
On Sunday, State Governor Volker Bouffier suggested that Schaefer was in "despair" over the coronavirus crisis.
"We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all, we are immensely sad," Bouffier said in a statement.
A visibly shaken Bouffier said Schaefer, who was a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, had been working "day and night" to help companies and workers deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bouffier added that Mr. Schaefer was worried about "whether it would be possible to succeed in fulfilling the population's huge expectations, particularly of financial help" amid the coronavirus crisis.
"I have to assume that these worries overwhelmed him," Bouffier said.
"He apparently couldn't find a way out. He was in despair and left us."
Popular and well-respected, Schaefer had long been touted as a possible successor to Bouffier.
The CDU's outgoing leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Schaefer's death was a "shock" to everyone in the party.
"This news leaves us sad and bewildered," she said.
"All our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Merkel herself has been working from home after coming into contact with an infected doctor.
The chancellor herself has tested negative, however.
Germany's federal and state governments have drawn up huge aid packages to cushion the blow of the economic standstill.
The country's latest figures today show 57,298 cases and 455 deaths.
The German states nearest Italy taking a larger hit than most of Germany.