Bernie Madoff attempted suicide, wife says

NEW YORK (AP) — The wife of disgraced Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff says the couple tried to kill themselves in 2008 after he admitted to his loved ones that he'd stolen billions of dollars in the largest Ponzi scheme in history.

"I don't know whose idea it was, but we decided to kill ourselves because it was so horrendous what was happening," she says in the interview, according to excerpts released by CBS.

She says it was Christmas Eve of 2008, which added to their depression, and she decided: "I just can't go on anymore."

She says the couple took "a bunch of pills" including the insomnia prescription medication Ambien, but they both woke up the next day. She says the decision was "very impulsive" and she's glad they didn't die.

One of their sons, Mark Madoff, hanged himself by a dog leash last year on the anniversary of his father's arrest. Like his parents, he had swallowed a batch of sleeping pills in a failed suicide attempt 14 months earlier, according to his widow's new book, "The End of Normal: A Wife's Anguish, A Widow's New Life."

Bernie Madoff was arrested on Dec. 11, 2008, the morning after his sons notified authorities through an attorney that he had confessed to them that his investment business was a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. He admitted cheating thousands of investors. He pleaded guilty to fraud charges and is serving a 150-year prison sentence in Butner, N.C.

Madoff, who's in his 70s, ran his scheme for at least two decades, using his investment advisory service to cheat individuals, charities, celebrities and institutional investors.

An investigation found Madoff never made any investments, instead using the money from new investors to pay returns to existing clients — and to finance a lavish lifestyle for his family. Losses have been estimated at around $20 billion, making it the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history

Ruth’s account is questioned by the head of the private security firm hired to guard them, who was inside the apartment that night until about 7:00 p.m.

“Sitting there with them, talking, I didn't see anything unusual,” said Nick Casale.

Mark's wife Stephanie told ABC's Chris Cuomo that her late husband felt Ruth was wrong to stand by Bernie after the arrest.

Previously to the attempted suicide, Ruth sent a package to their son Andrew with sentimental items, including jewelry. Three years later, Andrew asked his mother why she had sent him the jewelry. She told him then that two had tried to kill themselves, Andrew told CBS.

The report will air on "60 Minutes," Sunday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.