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The dignified exit of Vangelis Yakoumakis

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A short text on the recent tragic death of a brutally bullied young Greek student, under the rubric "Slashes" of the upcoming annual congress of the NLS to take place in Geneva
Slashes 32
The dignified exit of Vangelis Yakoumakis,
by Yannis Grammatopoulos
While Greece is living the drama of its financial crisis, another drama, which has kept
Greek society on its toes for forty days, found its tragic end on March 15th. The
decaying body of twenty-year-old Vangelis Yakoumakis, a Dairy school student
(studying the production of dairy at a public agricultural school) from Crete, who went
missing on February 6th, was found in the surrounding area.
According to witnesses, Yakoumakis had been the victim of brutal bullying by a gang
of fellow-Cretans. Their ridiculing practices would put him to the position of an
inanimate object or, best case, an animal: They would make out of him a “juke-box,”
locking him in a closet and asking him to sing, or stretch and pull a wet towel along
his neck.
But in the afternoon of February 6th Vangelis had had enough. He fled the scene of
his torture. He rushed out of his campus room heading toward the nearby lake of
Ioannina, having left behind his mobile phone, refusing, thus, the Other the right to
find him. Forty days later he was spotted by passersby with a knife at a short
distance from his corpse and an incision on his wrist.
Psychoanalytic praxis teaches us that the act, a response to a crisis, transforms the
subject. It can rise again in a different form. But Vangelis’s tragic story indicates that
the subject’s re-emergence isn’t guaranteed. When one’s subjectivity is diminished to
the level of object, there is not always a way-back.
Once a victim of similar practices in a provincial Greek town as a youngster, I have
an experience of what it feels like. In situations like these, one only seeks an exit. In
my case, psychoanalysis was a happy encounter that gave me the chance to
renegotiate, among others, what was at stake during that traumatic period.
But the drama of Vangelis teaches us that not everyone finds such a way-out.
Moreover, his act shows us the extent to which a subject can go in order to regain its
lost dignity. Violently denied the right to his difference, Vangelis paid for it with his
own life.
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