Italian policemen patrol in Brescia (Reuters)

A father has thrown his two young children to their deaths from a six floor apartment balcony in Brescia, northern Italy, before hurling to his death.

Marco Turrini, 41, recently lost his job as advertising agent. His children, a boy of 4 years old and a babygirl of 14 months, died at the hospital.

After attempting to kill also his wife, the man jumped from the balcony and died on the spot.

According to police, who is investigating the accident, the wife is currently at the hospital under sedation.

Italy, which is back in recession, has seen a rash of suicides in recent weeks. It is unclear if economic difficulties were to blame for the accident.

"It was a happy family," a neighbour told Italian daily La Repubblica. "I've known them for 4-5 years and seen the children born. This morning I heard the scream and went downstairs to see what happened. He was still alive, I saw him breathing. The children's heartbeats were already very feeble."

Turrini father hanged himself last year after he suffered health problems.