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Charles Hopper, Ex-Lehman Brothers Exec, Commits Suicide In Face Of Financial Distress

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A sign outside the Tokyo branch of Lehman Brothers Holdings. Charles Hopper, who took his own life in May, lost his job at Lehman Brothers in 2007, which marked the beginning of a period of severe financial distress.
A sign outside the Tokyo branch of Lehman Brothers Holdings. Charles Hopper, who took his own life in May, lost his job at Lehman Brothers in 2007, which marked the beginning of a period of severe financial distress.

Charles Hopper -- 63 years old and facing mounting financial troubles -- hanged himself in the garage of his Connecticut home last month. But five years earlier, before desperation drove him to that point, he'd been an executive at Lehman Brothers earning seven figures a year.

Hopper's fall from grace -- as revealed in a detailed New York Post feature this week -- is just one in a long series of tragic outcomes that can be traced back to the financial crisis.

Hopper had been a hedge fund advisory executive at Lehman, but he lost his job in 2007, about a year before that firm filed for bankruptcy and triggered the bank panic of 2008. Hopper struggled to find work for two years, eventually landing a job at Appomattox Advisory that paid $150,000. He was underwater on his mortgage and had borrowed and spent a little too freely during the good years -- for himself, pricey watches and a Porsche; for his wife, whatever she wanted, it seems, including cameras, sculling lessons and graduate school courses.

His suicide, sadly, is far from the only recent example of a Wall Street worker driven to extreme measures after experiencing financial troubles.

In 2008, Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, a French investment advisor, took his own life after losing both investors' money and his own life savings in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. De la Villehuchet reportedly felt consumed by guilt for his role in the loss.

Barry Fox, a research supervisor at Bear Stearns, jumped from his 29th-story apartment in 2008 after learning he wouldn't be hired on by JPMorgan Chase, which was buying up the company.

A few months later, Eric Von der Porten, who founded the California investment fund Leeward Investments, took his own life after suffering major losses in the market downturn of late 2008. Von der Porten, who had been struggling with depression, had a reputation for integrity and community-mindedness.

Similar tragedies have been dotting the landscape in Europe, as a stark financial climate has left many investors and small business owners grappling with overwhelming levels of debt. So many suicides have occurred on the Continent in recent years that some European papers are referring to the trend as "suicide by economic crisis," according to The New York Times.

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