German minister commits suicide over coronavirus emotional distress

Chinese tourists walk to their gate to catch a flight to China at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, Sunday, March 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The finance minister of Germany’s Hesse state has committed suicide apparently after becoming “deeply worried” over how to cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus, according to German authorities.

“We are in shock, we are in disbelief and, above all, we are immensely sad,” state premier Volker Bouffier said on Sunday about the passing of Thomas Schaefer, 54.

Schaefer, who was Hesse’s finance chief for 10 years, had been working “day and night” to help companies and workers deal with the economic impact of the pandemic.

“Today, we have to assume that he was deeply worried,” said Bouffier, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“It’s precisely during this difficult time that we would have needed someone like him,” he added.

Popular and well-respected, Schaefer had long been touted as a possible successor to Bouffier.

The two politicians belonged to Dr Merkel’s center-right CDU party.

He leaves behind a wife and two children.