NEW YORK – Ruth Madoff, the wife of Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, told CBS News that she and her husband attempted to commit suicide after the disgraced financier's crimes came to light.
"I don't know whose idea it was, but we decided to kill ourselves because it was so horrendous what was happening," Ruth Madoff said in an interview with "60 Minutes." "We had terrible phone calls. Hate mail, just beyond anything and I said '...I just can't go on anymore.'"
According to the article on CBSNews.com, Ruth said the two took some pills on Christmas Eve, some Ambien and possibly Klonopin. She said he swallowed more than she did.
"We took pills and woke up the next day....It was very impulsive and I am glad we woke up," she said, according to the report.
Bernie Madoff, 72, swindled a long list of investors out of billions of dollars. He admitted that he ran his scheme for at least two decades, cheating thousands of individuals, charities, celebrities and institutional investors. Losses are estimated at around $20 billion making it the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history.
Ruth Madoff's public comments come shortly after her daughter-in-law, Stephanie Madoff Mack, released a memoir detailing her heartbreak since her husband, Mark Madoff, committed suicide at age 46 in the aftermath of the scandal.
Barbara Walters told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday that she interviewed Madoff for two hours at the prison in Butner, North Carolina, where he's serving a 150-year sentence. No cameras were allowed in the prison.
Walters said Madoff told her he thought about suicide before being sent to prison. But since he's been there, he no longer thinks about it.
Walters quoted Madoff as saying: "I feel safer here (in prison) than outside. I have people to talk to, no decisions to make. I know I will die in prison. I lived the last 20 years of my life in fear. Now, I have no fear because I'm no longer in control."
Walters also said he told her he understands why his one-time clients hate him, and that the average person thinks he "robbed widows and orphans." But he also told her, "I made wealthy people wealthier."
Mark Madoff and his brother Andrew, 45, were responsible for alerting authorities to their father's deceptive financial scheme in 2008.
Speaking on "The View" Monday, Madoff Mack called her late husband "a hero ... he stood up to a man he admired so much, in an instant."
"Mark Madoff was an honorable man, he was duped by Bernie Madoff too," she continued.
Though she said her husband was attempting to put the pieces of his life back together again, ultimately the weight of his father's deception was too much.
"I think he did it [committed suicide] because he thought we would be better off. He couldn't get over the betrayal. He was in a lot of pain," she said.
Newscore and the Associated Press contributed to this report.