A Personal Note from Tim: It is Sunday afternoon, and on this quiet, rainy day I decided to check and see if there were any new posts drafted for the blog. There was one – by Market Sniper – shown below.
There are a number of people on Slope that make it what it is. I am in awe on a daily basis how much time, energy, and thought goes into this community. I am truly delighted to be about the 20th most important person on Slope now.
Market Sniper – affectionately also known as Dutch – has been a bedrock of the site for a long time. There's no one that has published more comments (I won't reveal the number, but let's just say it's very deep into five-digit territory) and no one more passionate about trading the right way.
He shares with us here a personal story which is troubling, tragic, and important. I know of others who have gone through this kind of thing themselves, and the whole topic of depression, gambling addiction, and suicide in the world of trading is the 800 pound elephant no one talks about since the gloss of flashy ads and suspicious success stories are more alluring.
I thank Dutch for his continued work here on Slope, but most particularly for this article. Read on:
Yesterday, December 18, 2010, I received news that was both personally devastating to me and filled me with rage at the same time. A friend of mine, a trader, took his own life. Rather than let this experience go to waste, I thought I would share it with the Slope community as it is also a cautionary tale.
I have known my friend for a number of years. He comes from a semi-wealthy background and is Canadian of Lebanese extraction living in the United States. A good man. A kind and caring man but a very proud and head strong man now aged 50.
He came to trading actively in 2007. He was a normal newbie trader, greed driven with some success at first. He chose to predominately trade gold ETFs and the SPY. Predominately options in both. He would often take $25,000 single directional positions be instantly rewarded with up to $250,000 and then with increased size, feed it all back plus more. His account equity swings were, at times, horrendous. When he traded gold, he ONLY traded in one direction which was long. He was constantly looking for input as to the next directional move in SPY. Constantly seeking to detect bottoms and tops.
My friend and I had constant discussions about the need to use methodology, risk control, trade management and discipline. I begged and urged him to back off, get his head and game plan together before proceeding further. It always fell on deaf ears. A year or so ago, I thought I detected some progress. I stayed in touch on a regular basis. Around a month ago something changed. I knew that because he was evasive as to how his trading was going. I did not press him to what is now my regret.
He had traded away $900,000 in cash. Account down to almost the cost to wire out what was left. His mansion was in foreclosure and he was reduced to selling anything of value to put food on the table daily. He had lost his wife's money as well as his wife's daughter's money in addition to the $900,000. Driven past the edge of despair, this proud but kind, gentle and open hearted man, woke up early Thursday morning, pistol in hand while the household was still asleep, walked up to the top of the hill overlooking his mansion, put pistol to head and pulled the trigger. In the suicide letter he stated that he was "just too old and too tired to start over again."
My friend was not really a trader. He was a gambler with no edge whatsoever. Therein lies the cautionary tale. IF you can see yourself in ANY of this, do yourself, your family and friends a favor. Stop clicking the mouse. Wire out the money and STOP "trading." "Trading" for you is a poison. Reach out to those around you for help. You will find your not alone.
As to my anger and rage. IF I should ever catch up to my friend, I will plant my 11R boot so far up the backside of his lap that he will be spitting out my boot laces.
In conclusion. NEVER measure your value or self worth by the money you have, the house you have and the other possessions you may also have. We all come into this world with nothing and we shall all leave this world with nothing. We are merely caretakers of any earthly wealth and possessions in between birth and death. Rather, it seems to me, we should measure our TRUE wealth and value by what is in our hearts and minds. Also by family and friends. Life continually throws up obstacles to us. We can choose to be defeated by those or view them as opportunities to rise to even greater heights in self awareness and self fulfillment. Life is short and fleeting. Take every opportunity to increase TRUE wealth. Never put off gaining both the experiences and the knowledge that you desire. Never lose an opportunity to tell those you love that indeed, you do love them.
I wish you all the very best of holidays. Peace. Now go out and DO the right thing.