Thomas Schaefer, finance minister in the German state of Hesse, took his own life after reportedly being “deeply worried” over how to deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the country, the state premier, Volker Bouffier, said on Sunday.
The 54-year-old politician, whose body was found close to a railway track on Saturday, left behind a wife and two children.
The Wiesbaden prosecutor's office and police concluded that Schaefer died by suicide, based on witness testimony and observations at the scene.
“We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all we are immensely sad", Bouffier said in a statement.
The state leader asserted that Schaefer, who has been Hesse’s finance minister for 10 years, had been working “day and night” to cope with the economic difficulties emerging amid the virus outbreak.
The state of Hesse is home to Germany's financial capital Frankfurt, where the European Central Bank, as well as major lenders such as Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, are based.
“Today we have to assume that he was deeply worried", Bouffier said. “It's precisely during this difficult time that we would have needed someone like him”.
As of Sunday, the country has confirmed over 52,000 cases of the disease, with 389 deaths. A total of 3,965 new cases of the disease were confirmed in the preceding 24 hours. Germany is the third most-affected country in Europe, after Italy and Spain, in numbers of COVID-19 victims.