I write and publish a financial newsletter. Over the past two years, no less than three of my subscribers — all current or former finance industry workers — have taken their own lives. Each time, I was profoundly affected, because I nearly took my own life almost 20 years ago while working as a young trader at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. I know what that level of despair feels like.
All jobs have stress of some degree, but the stress associated with the finance industry is unique and very complex. At the top is performance anxiety. You either make money for the firm or you lose your job. It’s that simple. Also, regulations are everywhere and heavily enforced. The fear of running afoul of the rules and not just losing your job but losing your career runs deep. There are the pressures of office politics. An outsider might naively believe that the best performers rise to the top, but that often isn’t true. All of this is exacerbated and complicated by various addictions and compulsions, including gambling, drugs and alcohol.