The trillion-dollar taboo: why it’s time to stop ignoring mental health at work

By Lilah Raptopoulous and James Fontanella-Khan , June 7, 2019 

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Gabe MacConaill was working on a life-defining case. The 42-year-old junior partner at global law firm Sidley Austin had been put on the bankruptcy of a company called Mattress Firm. The process was complicated and multipronged, taking 41 subsidiaries down with it. In the months leading up to the bankruptcy filing in October 2018, many people surrounding MacConaill noticed he was isolating himself. He closed his office door more often. His friends rarely saw him. He worried aloud to his wife, Joanna Litt, that he didn’t have enough debtor experience and would be sued for malpractice. MacConaill stopped sleeping regularly. He stopped laughing and going to the gym. At one point, Litt suggested he see a therapist but he told her he could barely get his work done, let alone find time to start counselling. Later, later, he promised her. After the filing. But as the date got closer, MacConaill began to break down. He told his wife that he believed his body was failing him but feared that if his bosses saw weakness, it would be the end of his career. A heart-attack scare sent him to the emergency room but he powered on, gathering his energy to fly to Delaware and file the case. He came home. Litt thought they had made it through. A week later, MacConaill died by suicide in the parking lot of his law firm.

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