The technology community last week mourned the suicide of Ilya Zhitomirskiy, a brilliant young mathematician who co-founded Diaspora, a social network site devoted to privacy.

The whole world now knows the story of Zhitomirskiy, 22, a New York University graduate student with his whole life ahead of him. In time, autopsy and toxicology results will reach formal conclusions.

The technology community last week mourned the suicide of Ilya Zhitomirskiy, a brilliant young mathematician who co-founded Diaspora, a social network site devoted to privacy.

For now, Diaspora colleagues and observers say he may have been overwhelmed by his role in the company or private demons. 

Unfortunately, this suicide is far from the only one in the technology sector. In 1988, Nokia's dynamic CEO, Kari Kairamo, shot himself for new apparent reason. At 55, the Nokia boss had won acclaim for transforming a sleepy Finnish maker of rubber boots and grungy industrial products into today's sleek mobile electronics leader. Associates said Kairamo had been manic-depressive, suffering for years from the syndrome without treatment.

Was Steve Jobs like that? Well-known in life as a brilliant innovator with many ups and downs and regarded by all as a creative genius, Jobs, as portrayed by Walter Isaacson in his new biography, certainly seems manic depressive. Surely in the last years of his life as he suffered from pancreatic cancer, Jobs may have been down at times but Isaacson portrays a man grounded in his work with a happy family life, surrounded by four adoring children.

But creative people like Jobs sometimes do things that are questionable. Apple got into trouble over stock options for Jobs and other top executives but avoided prosecution after restating financial reports. I apologize to Apple's shareholders and employees for these problems, which happened on my watch, Jobs wrote in 2006.

At FalconStor, the storage software developer, though, the scene was less pretty in 2010 when CEO ReiJane Huai was ousted after a similar kind of options scandal triggered shareholder lawsuits. They led to bribery indictments and a probe into the company by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that is still underway.

In September, Huai fatally shot himself at home in Glen Head, N.Y., a day before he was to enter guilty pleas in U.S. District Court. While FalconStor now remains a small player, with a market capitalization around $140 million, Huai made out like a bandit when he sold his last company, the well-known Cheyenne Software, to CA, then known as Computer Associates International, for $1.2 billion in 1996.

Indeed, among the first responders to Huai's house after the death was Charles Wang, the founder of CA and a close friend, also a reputed billionaire. The basic thought was that Huai, a Taiwanese, could not bear the shame of a conviction.

Other technology people have also committed the most extreme act: Glenn Mueller, a legendary venture capitalist in Silicon Valley who was among the bankrollers of Silicon Graphics, committed suicide when he was barred from investing in a startup, Netscape Communications, by James Clark, who'd been the CEO of Silicon Graphics.

There was bad blood between them, stemming from Mueller's slowly taking away Clark's ownership in Silicon Graphics, a former darling of the engineering set whose workstations created the visuals of Jurassic Park. It was never clear why Mueller killed himself.

Another young tyro who shot himself was Jonathan James, 24, who broke into Pentagon computers to steal sensitive passwords and information and received a six-month term of house arrest. Later, the Secret Service raided his home after retailer TJX's computers were hacked.

This is my only way to regain control, James wrote in his suicide note.

Manic-depression. Creativity. Shame. Criminal acts. These clearly triggered acts of desperation. The theme song for M*A*S*H is titled Suicide is Painless. The technology community knows better.