Thierry de la Villehuchet – an acquaintance of mine – just killed himself in the aftereffects of the Madoff case. He had dragged his clients into investing with Madoff . “Killing himself over money?” I kept hearing. No, it is not about the money –it was other people’s money. It is about dignity. I could not help comparing it to Madoff, pictured walking around Manhattan with a faint smirk –totally insensitive to the harm he caused.

This is an aristocratic act coming from an aristocratic character: you take your own life when you believe that you failed somewhere – and the solution is to inflict the ultimate penalty on yourself. It is not the money; but the embarrassment, the shame, the guilt that are hard to bear. Someone callous, indifferent to the harm done to others would have lived comfortably (“it is all about money”). A life of shame is not worth living. Christianity never allowed suicide; the stoics did –it allows a man to get the last word with fate.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, On Killing Oneself