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German billionaire commits suicide

Adolf Merckle left a note. Adolf Merckle left a note.
Associated Press / January 7, 2009
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BERLIN - His spirit broken by financial fears, German billionaire Adolf Merckle took his life this week - becoming the latest high-profile casualty of a global economic crisis that has claimed the lives of executives in Europe and the United States.

Merckle, who leaves his wife and four children, jumped in front of a train officials said yesterday.

His business empire had run into trouble in the crisis, and its problems were compounded by heavy losses in trading of shares in automaker Volkswagen AG. His business interests included generic drug maker Ratiopharm International GmbH and cement maker HeidelbergCement AG.

Merckle's family said in a statement "the distress to his firms caused by the financial crisis and the related uncertainties of recent weeks, along with the helplessness of no longer being able to act, broke the passionate family businessman."

Authorities said he left a suicide note, but gave no details. Merckle's death appears to be at least the third comparable suicide in less than four months.

Dr. Charles Goodstein, a psychiatrist at NYU School of Medicine and past president of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York, said Merckle may have had other issues.

" . . . The economic problems may have been the tipping point that sent him over the edge."

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