Media Money: Owner of RBI building kills himself

The businessman who owned Quadrant House – HQ of Reed Business Information -– killed himself earlier this week.

Patrick Rocca, a Dublin-based property developer and father of three, joins a growing list of credit crunch suicides.

Naturally, it’s the the high-profile ones we hear about. Ordinary people who give up the uneven fight are less newsworthy.

In a week when the markets decided that Great Britain plc risks bankruptcy, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised at the human toll.

It’s frequently reported that 23,000 Americans – the highest number ever – took their own lives during the 12 months after the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Actually, the US suicide rate peaked in 1932. Stock market crashes don’t drive up the suicide rate. It’s the subsequent declines in GDP, affecting large numbers of people, that do the real damage.

Ian King of the Times records Rocca’s demise. But check out the related links on the same page. Oddly, these include a link to a story headlined ‘Highflyers queue for membership of ‘rotary club'”.

This particular Sunday Times story from 2004 records how Patrick and his brother Carl had just spent €4m on a six-seater Augusta 109 helicopter.

‘Arriving by helicopter to a business meeting will give a favourable impression of the company,’Carl Rocca told the Sunday Times. The breathless copy went on like this:

If you fancy joining the high-flyers, put your order in early. Anyone looking for a helicopter now will have to wait at least six or seven months before they can take to the skies.

The orders are flying in, according to Chris Shiel, managing director of Executive Helicopters, one of Ireland’s biggest helicopter companies. ‘Irish people are less ashamed of showing their wealth,’he said.

This vapid and illusory article qualifies as a minor masterpiece of Bubble Era arslikhan. Reading it through the wrong end of the credit crunch telescope, it strikes me that the madness of our infatuation with debt during the past decade is written across the search engines.

Just occasionally, the result is a pathos that’s haunting.

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