ROME An Italian man shot himself dead on Wednesday because his company was going bust, following a wave of economy-related suicides in the country which one opposition politician blamed on Prime Minister Mario Monti's reforms.
The 59-year-old Rome-based construction firm owner left a note apologising to family members and explaining that his business had failed, police said.
A day earlier, a 78-year-old woman in Sicily jumped to her death because her monthly pension payments had been reduced. On Monday, a picture frame maker hanged himself because of economic difficulties.
And last week, two men set themselves on fire in northern Italy due to financial woes. Both survived, one with severe burns.
Opposition politician Antonio Di Pietro, leader of the Italy of Values (IDV) party, criticised the government's reform agenda in parliament, and said Monti had the suicides of people who can't make it to the end of the month "on his conscience".
At a news conference on Wednesday, Monti refused to reply to the comments from Di Pietro, a fiery former anti-corruption magistrate, who was one of the harshest critics of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Italy is struggling with a recession, rising unemployment and increasingly severe austerity measures.
The government is trying to revive growth while also remaining committed to a programme of spending cuts, tax hikes and pension reform passed at the end of last year aimed at averting a Greek-style debt crisis.
(Reporting By Antonella Cinelli and Catherine Hornby Editing by Maria Golovnina)