[Editor's note: Earlier this year, California researchers Molly Gleiser and Richard H. Seiden concluded an investigation of the precipitating factors in the suicides of 37 famous male scientists from eight European countries, the U.S., and the Soviet Union. Their findings are summarized below.]
For some scientists at the pinnacle of their careers, learning to manage stress can have life-saving consequences. In our recent study of suicide among famous scientists, we found stress--both the job-related and the personal varieties--to be a contributing factor.
The noteworthy researchers we studied range from the Greek philosopher Socrates to Valerii Legasov, the Soviet physicist in charge of investigating the Chernobyl disaster, who committed suicide in 1988. They included four Nobel Prize winners: Emil Fischer (1852-1919), Hans Fischer (1881-1945), Percy Bridgman (1882-1961), and Stanford Moore (1913-1982), as well as others of similar caliber, like the Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann (1844-1906).
We defined "famous" scientists as those...