We live in a society filled with dreams and aspirations of wealth, a society that likes to believe that money will bring with it happiness and success. The will to succeed is overpowering for some, and the pressure can be all-consuming. Mental pressure can take many forms; stress can enter our lives at any time, regardless of timing or situation. The following men were all successful businessmen who committed suicide. The millions in their bank accounts did nothing to ease their suffering…
10. Jonathan Wraith
Thirty-five-year-old Jonathan Wraith — a young British millionaire by virtue of selling his and his father’s portable cabin business for £30 million ($46 million) — was by all accounts a happy and well-adjusted young man. However, in 2009 he picked up his shotgun and shot himself, leaving no suicide note. No clear reason could be found for Wraith’s action, but there has been some speculation that he was extremely worried about his father David’s recent stroke. It seems that this may have proven too much for the young man to take.
9. Eli M. Black
Eli M. Black, whose death was immortalized on screen in the Coen Brothers comedy The Hudsucker Proxy, was a Jewish-American businessman and millionaire controller of the United Brands Company. An astute and forward thinking capitalist, Black’s career included stints with Lehman Brothers and then the American Seal-Kap Company, which he renamed AMK. The early ’70s saw AMK merge with United Fruit Company. With that, Black’s fate was sealed. His downfall was rooted in the discovery of his $2.5 million bribe offered to the President of Honduras, to reduce export taxes on bananas. Taking matters into his own hands before the scandal broke, Black climbed the 44 floors of his office building and leapt out onto crowded Park Avenue to the horror of onlookers below.
8. Huibert Boumeester
At 49, father-of-two Huibert Boumeester took his own life after becoming seriously depressed in the fallout of the £50 billion ($77 billion) takeover of ABN Amro by the Royal Bank of Scotland. The Dutch millionaire banker’s body was discovered in a woodland area several miles away from his home in London. A suicide note to his wife Frederique that was found on his body read that he could not “go on.” The coroner confirmed that Mr. Boumeester had ended his life while depressed, explaining: “He drove to a very isolated location in woodland, sat down and used the shotgun to end his own life.”
7. Christopher Foster
In August 2008, Christopher Foster, a 50-year-old British businessman, murdered his wife and daughter before burning down his house and killing himself. The businessman shot his wife Jillian and daughter Kirstie, prior to succumbing to smoke inhalation. Foster, wealthy by virtue of his company’s work creating oil rig insulation technology, was nevertheless beset by financial concerns. Despite being a millionaire residing in a five-bedroom country mansion, he was living beyond his means, with debts of £4 million ($6.2 million). It seems that, tragically, these financial worries may well have pushed him over the edge.
6. John Lawrenson
John Lawrenson was a successful businessman who lived in a £1.2 million ($1.8 million) mansion (the Old Rectory, above). He was healthy and seemingly happy, and had earned the right to enjoy the profits from a lucrative life in the publishing world. This all would have been fine, except for one thing: his beloved wife Caroline was dying of cancer. The devoted couple, married for 47 years, poisoned themselves with a substance bought via mail order from Mexico. A suicide note found near their bodies confirms the truth: Mr. Lawrenson could not bear the thought of living alone and decided to take the matter into his own hands.
5. Wayne Pai
Wayne Pai was a successful Taiwanese businessman, and founder and chairman of the securities broker the Polaris Group. In the wake of rumors of insider trading, the nevertheless well respected Pai was found dead in July 2008. His wife and members of Polaris’ staff flew to the outlying island of Penghu to assist police with their inquiries. Pai’s suicide came at a time when allegations were being made that a former president of National Chiao Tung University had been receiving regular payments from Polaris. Pai’s body was found floating in waters surrounding the outlying island.
4. Paul Castle
Paul Castle — a self-styled businessman and property tycoon who had met the Queen of England and played polo with Prince Charles — killed himself in 2010. The 54-year-old threw himself in front of a London Underground train, leaving no chance of survival. The businessman, described as a “workaholic,” had seen several property deals go awry over the last year of his life and had also lost capital in a gas and oil surveying company. Castle, who suffered from chronic heart problems and tumors, had been married three times and was due to be wedded for a fourth time, to his girlfriend Natalie Theo.
3. Peter Smedley
Peter Smedley was an enormously successful millionaire hotelier and businessman with a tinned food empire that provided him with a sizable income. He and his wife Christine — who had been married for 33 years — enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle befitting of their riches. However, Mr. Smedley was also an extremely ill man, suffering from motor neurone disease. He ended his life by his own volition, at an assisted dying organization, the Dignitas clinic, in Switzerland. In a further twist to the story, Mr. Smedley’s death was filmed by the BBC, with segments televised as part of documentary about assisted suicides.
2. Howard Worthington
In an alarming case of destructive emotion, self-proclaimed “lord of the manor” millionaire Howard Worthington shot himself with one of his prized shotguns just moments after shooting his lover Julie Rees. The 52-year-old English former businessman, who made his fortune in the steel industry, had been ordered to stay away from his £1.3 million ($2 million) country home after threatening her with a gun a few weeks prior. While Rees recovered, Worthington did not. Verdict: suicide.
1. ReiJane Huai
Long Island resident and computer software high flyer ReiJane Huai killed himself with a single shot in September 2011. The former president and CEO of FalconStor, a data storage company, had resigned suddenly in 2010 following a lawsuit filed against him. The millionaire committed suicide on the front lawn of the $2.5 million home he shared with his wife, ShuWen. The Taiwanese-born Huai — who had traveled to the USA to study in 1984 — had several adult children living in the US and was described as a “visionary and leader” by a FalconStor spokesman.