Ruth Madoff, the wife of the notorious convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, says she and her husband each took a handful of pills the night before Christmas 2008 and hoped they'd never wake up. But now she's glad they did.
"I don't know whose idea it was, but we decided to kill ourselves because it was so horrendous what was happening," Ruth tells Morley Safer in an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes. "We had terrible phone calls, hate mail, just beyond anything, and I said, 'I just can't go on anymore.'"
Ruth says they took a lot of pills, and she remembers that Ambien was involved.
"I took what we had, he took more," says Ruth. They swallowed the pills right after Bernie's arrest for stealing billions of dollars over several years from his private investors. It happened on Christmas Eve. "That added to the whole depression," she says. Madoff is in a federal prison for the next 150 years, but his wife says it's a good thing that the attempt failed: "We took pills and woke up the next day. It was very impulsive and I am glad we woke up."
Ruth Madoff told The New York Times the two never talked about suicide again.
Son Andrew Madoff also sat down to talk to Safer. He says he believes his mom's story. His brother Mark Madoff hung himself two years to the day after his father was arrested. The brothers exposed their father to authorities, leading to his arrest. Neither has faced charges.
Meanwhile, ABC News talked to Bernie Madoff in an exclusive interview from prison earlier this month. He told Barbara Walters that he no longer thinks about suicide and deserved to be in prison, even feels "free" there. He told Walters he "can live with" the anger from the hundreds of people he defrauded. But "not seeing my family and knowing they hate me" is the worst thing about being in prison, he said. "I betrayed them." He said Ruth ended all contact with him after their son's suicide.
The NYT says Ruth Madoff's interview blitz is to support an authorized biography titled "Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family," set to hit shelves Monday. Also this week, Deadline reports that HBO is moving forward with a Madoff biopic. The site reports producers are wooing Robert DeNiro to play Bernie Madoff.