Deloitte partner Daniel Pirron's suicide is terrible. Anyone that has had to cope with a loved one taking his or her own life knows the helpless feeling you have in the aftermath of such a tragedy. If someone at your company committs suicide, the emotional level is obviously different but it is no less shocking regardless if you knew the person or not. In the case of Mr Pirron's death, it is especially tragic becuse it appears he was motivated in part by the stress caused by his job.
A report in the Telegraph quotes his brother, Mike Pirron, at length about the family's belief that he was motivated by the firm's involvement with the Standard Chartered money laundering scandal:
Speaking publicly for the first time about the incident, Mr Pirron’s brother, Mike, said the family believed the two events were connected and that Daniel Pirron had warned his daughters the day before his death that there was “big trouble” ahead. “My brother didn’t discuss the case but he told me they were in big trouble with this case in London,” he said. “He was clearly apprehensive about a case that was about to come out. It is just extraordinary, when he was fine, that somebody would take his life.” Asked directly if he believed the two events were connected, Mr Pirron said: “The circumstances are just too much of a coincidence. "He was in the legal department and I think he was in London. It had to be work related. He told me the company was under pressure over this.” […] Mr Pirron, a leading businessman who owns a construction company in Chicago, said his brother had been acting strangely the day before he shot himself. “He was with his daughter on Sunday and she said he was acting very apprehensive. He kept going to the newsstands, looking for an important story to come out to do with Deloitte,” he said.
Deloitte has said that Daniel Pirron "was not involved in any way on our work for Standard Chartered Bank." He did work in the firm's General Counsel's office as an "accountant" according to Reuters and that could lead you to conclude that he may have had some exposure to Standard Chartered in some way, but right now we don't know that for certain. The Telegraph story also states that the family has hired an attorney to retrieve his laptop, although Deloitte is not releasing it. The Fairfield police are investigating Pirron's death, so Deloitte may have to give it up, although the computer is technically the firm's property.
There are a lot of different angles in this story but Mr. Pirron's motive for taking his own life is the one people will arguabely be most curious about. Why would he commit suicide if he wasn't involved with Standard Chartered? The majority of partners at Deloitte aren't involved with Standard Chartered with the exception of the fact that they are all owners of the firm. It's difficult to fathom a scenario where someone would kill themselves over a scandal they had no part in. And despite the range of emotions that his family is going through, I agree with the statement that "The circumstances are just too much of a coincidence" but there's a chance they will never get any answers.
But if you're going on the assumption that Pirron was somehow connected to Standard Chartered and this was a primary motivation for him, it's really unfortunate that he felt that he needed to take himself out of the situation by actually taking himself out. The life inside a Big 4 firm can be a roller coaster and most people get into professional services understanding that it's a high-stress environment but few probably ever think they'll be under so much pressure to consider suicide. We've all been in those situations where you dread the engagement you've been assigned to, the contentious client meeting you have to attend, or a tough conversation you are about to have with a superior but to be to connected to a situation like Standard Chartered (again, if you're going on the assumption that Pirron was connected to it) is a whole other level of stress and unless you experience it, there's no way to know what that feels like. Unfortunately for Daniel Pirron, whether he was involved with Standard Chartered or not, he felt that had no other choice.
Ugh. Suicide sucks.
If you've ever felt helpless or suspect that a co-worker is going through a stressful time and seems depressed, know that there are resources. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a toll-free number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)