Foul Play Ruled Out in Bitcoin Startup CEO Death

Journalist:
September 23, 2014

An American executive of a Bitcoin startup committed suicide in Singapore early in 2014 due to stress and depression from work and other personal issues. The information was released by the Coroner’s Court in Singapore.

The Coroner’s Court found that Autumn Radtke had been determined to end her life, and had “made concerted efforts toward facilitating this outcome.” Prior to her death, Autumn Radtke was the CEO of First Meta, a Bitcoin startup in Singapore. On February 26th, 2014, she plunged to her death from the 16th floor of her apartment block in Singapore. She was 28. “The magnitude of the issues on the work and personal front had taken a toll on her,” the report said. The coroner ruled out foul play.

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Stress at Work Takes its Toll, Even for the CEO of a Bitcoin Startup

It would appear that the shape of her company’s, First Meta, finances is what precipitated the tragic end. First Meta is a Singaporean startup which was incorporated in 2007. Ms. Radtke moved from California to Singapore in 2012 to become the company’s CEO. One and half years into the job, she began to have concerns about the shape of the company. First Meta’s co-founders said during the probe that Ms. Radtke wanted the company restructured or sold, and by December 2013 she was considering moving back to the United States. In January 2014, Ms. Radtke was “physically and mentally stressed” due to the lease of her company’s premises according to her boyfriend Mr. Daniel Pohlod, as quoted on Channel News Asia.

Decision to Commit Suicide

In the days and hours leading to her death, Ms. Radtke visited the apartment block three times according to close-circuit television installed in the apartment block. She had also been researching on suicide methods. Police found 49 visits to suicide-related websites, 46 of which were made two days before her death. Police also found cocaine samples in her pants, but the Coroner said that it was “inconclusive” if she had used the drug shortly before her death. Toxicology reports had found traces of anti-depressant medicine in her blood and urine samples.

Ms. Radtke had expressed suicidal thoughts separately to two of her friends in the days before she took her own life. The coroner’s report concluded that the suicide could have been avoided “with timely intervention and support” since she had already shown some measure of distress to her friends before her demise. Counseling and appropriate psychiatric treatment could have helped in blunting her suicidal inclination.

Suicide – a Growing Problem

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC, 39,518 Americans took their lives in 2011, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. In that year, there were at least four people who committed suicide every hour. The report revealed that an increasing number of young people in the 15-24 age bracket are also taking their lives.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention lists several warning signs on its website a good number of which Ms Radtke is reported to have demonstrated. The warning signs include talking about suicide, feeling trapped, increased use of drugs and researching on methods of committing suicide. The AFSP recommends that friends and loved ones should take such signs seriously, by never leaving the person alone and getting in touch with a counseling service or psychiatrist as soon as possible. Singapore police are still conducting an investigation into Radtke’s death. They are yet to release an official report on the exact cause of Autumn Radtke’s death.

Images from Shutterstock.

Tags: singapore
John Weru Maina @bitmaina

John Weru is a Kenya-born writer who has been writing since his teenage years. He believes that digital currencies hold the key to unlocking the potential of e-commerce and m-commerce globally, and powering Africa's participation in international trade.