Monday, February 16, 2009

Desperate acts

Unfortunately, the reality of how much people measure their self-worth by their net-worth comes through in this article. Much attention in this current economic crisis has been focused on the people who are on the lower strata of the socio-economic pile, but the reality of depravity and depression affects all, even those who seemingly have it made. Pain is truly universal.

IN THE abyss of financial ruin, faced with sure disgrace and possibly prison, some of the newly scandalised rich have taken desperate measures in these despairing times.
The black hole of hopelessness can be overwhelming. A man who lost US$1.4 billion (S$2.11 billion) to Bernie Madoff sits down in his Manhattan office and carefully writes a series of suicide letters to family and friends, then swallows a fatal dose of pills and conscientiously places a wastebasket under his bleeding arm, after slicing it with a box cutter.
Others are mind-boggling in their brazenness. A financier accused of stealing from his investors boards his private plane alone, sends a fake distress call over Alabama saying his windshield has shattered and he is bleeding profusely, then parachutes from the still-moving Piper Malibu, which is later found in a Florida swamp with no signs of blood or an imploded windshield.
In the past year, there have been more than 10 such incidents, from points across the country and beyond, executed by men whose finances disintegrated, sometimes into greed and possible thievery - with the same dizzying speed of the roller-coaster global market.
In January alone, three cases surfaced. German billionaire investor Adolf Merckle, who lost a fortune in shorted Volkswagen stock, threw himself under a commuter train.
Patrick Rocca, an Irish property investor who lost millions when the real estate market bottomed out, waited until his wife took their children to school before he shot himself in the head. Outside Chicago, real estate mogul Steven L. Good was found dead in his Jaguar, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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