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Finance minister of Germany's Hesse region dead from apparent suicide 'over coronavirus crisis worries'

The Independent logo The Independent 29/03/2020 Peter Stubley
Thomas Schaefer wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Independent

The finance minister of the German region of Hesse has died in an apparent suicide which the state governor suggested was linked to worries over the coronavirus pandemic.

Thomas Schaefer, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, was found on railway tracks at Hochheim, near Frankfurt, on Saturday.

Police and prosecutors said that the evidence, including witness statements and examination of the scene, led them to conclude the 54-year-old killed himself.

State governor Volker Bouffier said Schaefer had worked “literally day and night” to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.

“We have to assume that he was very worried,” said Mr Bouffier. “Above all, there are great concerns about whether it will be possible to meet the huge expectations of the population – especially financial aid.

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“I have to assume that these concerns overwhelmed him. He obviously couldn’t find a way out. He was desperate and left us. His death is also a great loss for this country.”

Schaefer had been Hesse’s state finance minister for a decade and was seen as a potential candidate for the region’s next governor.

The Hesse CDU party said in a statement that it was in mourning, adding: “We heard with dismay the news of his sudden and unexpected death. Our thoughts are with his family and relatives.”

Germany has reported 455 deaths and more than 58,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the start of the outbreak.

Seven days ago the German chancellor went into quarantine after a doctor who gave her a vaccine tested positive for the virus.

The country has banned public meetings of more than two people and imposed tight border restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of the outbreak.

Additional reporting by agencies

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

For services local to you, the national mental health database – Hub of Hope – allows you to enter your postcode to search for organisations and charities who offer mental health advice and support in your area

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