It was with sadness I read of the suicide of Bernie Madoff’s son, Mark Madoff over the week-end. I have no idea as to how much he may or may not have been involved in the ponzi scheme which his father ran and which fraudalently stole a reputed 50 billion dollars; from large institutions to small investors. There were many celebrities, reputedly even Kevin Bacon and his wife who lost all the millions they invested bar the house they were living in. A few others who were the victims of his fraud have also reputedly also commited suicide. Money, loss and its after-effects does seem to bring repercussions.
Mark Madoff had been in “an increasingly fragile state of mind” and had expressed both continuing bitterness toward his father and concern about a series of lawsuits that were filed against him and his family. He hung himself with the dog-lead whilst his two-year old son was sleeping next door. His wife was away at the time and he had been sending increasingly distressing emails to his wife. A person who commits suicide has to be in so much pain to want to end it all and he must have seen no way out of the situation. It goes beyond depression and the very dark thoughts that take over. Dark thoughts are at such a odds, with all the festivities at this time of year. How difficult it is to take all the laughter, joy and buying of presents of others around you, when the dark thoughts (or sometimes more commonly known as the black dog) seem to take over. There seems such a disjuncture of the negative to the positive.
So much of what we do has an effect not only on ourselves but also on others. We often fail to take account of our responsibility not only to ourselves but to those around us. If what we do brings others into our own circumstances then it will also distress them too. It was said that he and his wife were also very close and were a good and loving couple. Bernie Madoff did not only lose his freedom by being incarcerated for many lifetimes but he also lost his family and now one of his sons.
Most, if not all of us imagine the time of retirement and growing old as being one of peace and relaxation after all the years of hard work. We would not imagine it (as the Madoffs have experienced) being one where we may end up in jail, ostrasiced by the people we once worked and socialised with or barred from the clubs we once were free to enter. Yet they took the risk. This taking of the risk is often what is done in the financial industry. What would Bernie Madoff’s life been like if he had not set up the scheme he had set up? If he had lived more honestly? He would, no doubt still have been rich, but maybe, not as rich as he had been. Bernie Madoff was heard to have said he was relieved when the fraud was eventually discovered; he could now sleep and not await the knock on the door from the federal authorities or the police. How much is your peace of mind important to you? Is sleep important? Does guilt take over your life? Have you done something you are afraid will be found out? Its tough to keep a secret isn’t it? Imagine that fear and rachet it up to the power of thousands. The anxiety must have been huge for the Madoff’s. So much of this racked Bernie Madoff’s life and relief was short lived. He no doubt is re-living it all over again with the news of his sons suicide. I am sorry as to how this will also live on for the son of two who also survives and for those who were Bernie Madoffs victims.
If they could live their life all over again? Would they? Would Bernie Madoff have been any different? I do not think so. It is such an attraction to stay within the same familiar patterns. He had found the rewards and gains too great to ignore. It requires a great force of will to change our patterns. It is possible ; but awareness comes first, the plan, then the will.