Ruth Madoff told 60 Minutes this week that during the dark days after her husband’s Ponzi scheme was exposed, she and Bernie took a pass at killing themselves. It was Christmas Eve, shortly after Bernie admitted to his historic fraud. He was under house arrest, and Ruth was there was him.
“We took some pills,” she said to Morley Safer with a rueful chuckle, “and woke up the next day.” It was an impulsive halfhearted attempt. She thinks the pills were Ambien, though she doesn’t remember how many they took.
Ruth’s suicidal gesture no doubt reflected a sense of depression. But in an interview with New York earlier this year, Bernie said he’s never been interested in taking his life, and even scoffed at the idea.
In a series of phone conversations from prison after his son Mark had killed himself, Bernie spoke of his son. “I was surprised and devastated obviously that my son did it,” he said. “I don’t understand that. But he just couldn’t stand the pressure of what he was under, you know, and the torment.” Bernie, though, is built of different stuff. At one point in our four hours of conversation, I asked him: “Is it hard to get through it? There was that [newspaper] story … about medication and [your] suicidal thoughts … ”
“No,” Bernie answered, “I never thought of taking my life. It’s just not the way I am.”
Listen to the interview: