No longer does a suicide of a high-powered professional shock us. The latest is a former executive of ABN Armo Group Jan Peter Schmittmann. He had been forced to resign when the Dutch financial institution nationalized and was later critized for his large severance package. Before he killed himself he took the lives of his wife and mentally disabled daughter. He was known to suffer severe clinical depressions. Here is the coverage from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)
Clinical depression, of course, is nothing new. What is new is this development: The best and brightest giving in to that darkness rather than riding it out. So many effective leaders such as Abraham Lincoln wrestled with depression. A provocative book on the correlation between mental illness and leadership during crisis is "A First-rate Madness." It's by Tufts Medical School psychiatrist Nassir Ghaemi.
Perhaps the Schmittmanns wouldn't kill themselves had their organization been in a crisis and needed their unique help.