Hours before unemployment officials were to determine whether he was physically fit for work, an Austrian man sawed off his left foot with an electric saw, Austrian broadcaster ORF reported.
The 56-year-old man had just learned that his benefits could be slashed if he did not accept work found for him, the Daily Mail reported.
He reportedly placed the severed foot in a wood stove to make sure doctors could not reattach it to his leg.
On Monday, after his wife and son had left the house, Hans Url, positioned his left leg against an electric saw in the boiler room and severed his foot above the ankle. Images from the scene show an electric table saw – apparently wiped clean – surrounded by shallow pools of blood. On the stove were a lighter and ashtray filled with cigarette butts.
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Bleeding profusely and on the verge of death, Url called an ambulance. Emergency staff found him covered in blood, and they retrieved the foot from the fire.
Url was airlifted to a hospital in Graz. Hospital officials said he nearly died from loss of blood, according to the Daily Mail. Url is now out of danger, but doctors were not able to reattach his foot because it was too badly burned.
"He wants to work, but gets nothing suitable," Monika, Url's wife of 36 years, told the Kronen Zeitung. "My husband felt so worthless."
On Tuesday, Url was transferred to the psychiatric ward of the Graz regional hospital. "He apologized to me and told me how sorry he was," Monika told the Austrian newspaper. "He did it deliberately at the time when we -- my son and I -- were out of the house."
The rescue helicopter was waiting in front of the house when Monika returned. "Now I know that my husband was very scared of this health examination," she told the Krone. "He wants to work. But the job he imagines for himself doesn't exist."
Url's daughter Petra said her father once worked on a golf course, and he was happiest when working outdoors, according to the Austrian paper. She said he had received a number of such jobs in the past, but they only lasted several months at a time.
Police spokesman Franz Fasching said police were investigating the case as an attempted suicide. “The planning was meticulous," Fasching said.
Meticulous, perhaps, but possibly not a success. Url may still qualify for work despite the amputation, the Daily Mail reported.
The Daily Mail quoted Hermann Gössinger, spokesman for the unemployment center where Url was supposed to have been examined, as saying that “this is a tragic case but it will not help the man. He will be assessed once he is out of hospital and we will see what work we can find for him.”
Url has been unemployed -- with brief interruptions -- since 2003. The Kronen Zeitung reported he suffers from depression. In 2010, he spent 11 days in a psychiatric clinic in Graz.
"The family is at least firmly behind him," Monika told the paper. "Together we can get over this."