Former British soldier William Foxton couldn't bear it when he discovered his life savings had been wiped out.
Last month the 65-year-old father of two, who had invested up to £1 million with corrupt Wall Street fund manager Bernard Madoff, shot himself.
Experts foresee a looming mental health disaster for Britain as savings are wiped out, property prices plummet and jobs vanish.
Calls to Anxiety UK's helpline have doubled since the beginning of the year and the Government is frantically speeding up investment into psychological therapies.
During Depression Awareness Week (April 7-12) campaigners will be encouraging people to take their mental health seriously.
Depression accounts for more than 2,615 deaths and the loss of 100 million work days each year.
Psychotherapist Richard O'Connor author of Happiness: The Thinking Person's Guide points out that as society has become more prosperous, rates of anxiety, depression and stress-related disorders have accelerated in the US and Europe.
"Our biggest mistake in life is believing that 'getting what we want' will make us happy," he says.
"In the US, sociologists have been asking people the exact same question, the exact same way, for the last five decades. 'On a scale of one to five, how happy would you say you are?' And every single year, fewer people say they are happy."
By 2020, the World Health Organisation predicts that depression will be the second leading cause of death.
The pursuit of wealth is often seen as a root cause of this unhappiness. Not only do we feel obligated to earn more, but escalating levels of wealth cause everyone to feel inadequate.
A recent report by the Mental Health Foundation found that inequalities between the rich and the poor lead to perpetually high levels of stress, depression, high blood pressure and other medical problems.
But according to O'Connor, all this is perfectly understandable.
"Humans are not designed to be happy and satisfied," he says.
"Evolution keeps us wanting more. Your cave man brain wants you to believe that you'll be happy when you get rich, beat your buddies, rise to the top, and have the biggest house.
"The real secret of happiness is learning to be more systematically observant of what really does make you feel good."
O'Connor says the brain is constantly forming new cells, which means we can all make changes to the way we think.
He believes in meditation rather than medication and says feeling happy is a skill.
"The more you practise being happy, the easier you make it for yourself to be happy in the future. Likewise, the more you practise being depressed, the easier you make it for yourself to be depressed."
Don't worry - be happy
Richard O'Connor has the following tips for boosting your mental health:
- Happiness is a skill, it's not an innate gift. It requires that we pay close attention to our experience and see objectively what makes us happy. Our minds and our culture tell us a lot of lies about what might make us happy, like getting rich, beating out the competition, acquiring a lot of things. We have to get past those assumptions and systematically learn what makes us happy.
- Practice meditation at least four days a week for half an hour. Sit, clear your head and focus on your breath. Listen to your thoughts and detach yourself from them. As you practice this, you'll learn how you think and be less prone to being overcome with anxiety.
- Practice mindful thinking and observation. Because we're under so much stress, we often stop noticing and enjoying the rich details of life. View yourself and the world with compassionate curiosity. Foster a desire to understand the world and a belief in your own worth.
- Learn to notice when misery is unnecessary. Some misery is inevitable, but some we bring on ourselves. Practice detaching yourself from stressful experiences. Conversely, we can also choose to draw greater satisfaction and meaning from our lives.
- Exercise aerobically for half an hour, three to four times a week. There's an enormous body of research out there to prove a very simple point: the more you exercise, the better you feel.
- Don't be duped into believing that you'll be happy when you get what you want. Inevitably, when you get what you want, you'll quickly get used to it and start wanting something else. And while you've been waiting, you've missed out on a lot of opportunities for joy.
- At bedtime, let yourself go to sleep thinking about three things for which you are grateful - things that made you happy, or simply the best memories of the day. As you do this, pay attention to the feelings in your body: the smiling reflex, a warmness in your heart, the flow of tension out of your neck and shoulders. Whenever you feel good, let your body express it.
- Work on wanting what you have. Look around you and try to appreciate your possessions and possibilities - your furniture, books, and possessions. There's beauty and memories there. Savour them.
- Our bodies and minds were not designed for contemporary living conditions - especially not sitting in an office for eight hours a day. Don't assume there's something wrong with you if you're not happy. Be kind to yourself.